He Invented a System That Can Read Your Mind and Prevent You from Making Errors

Professor Songhua Xu invented a technology that was named one of the 100 top new technologies of the year by R&D Magazine.

An NJIT professor invented a human-computer interaction system that was named one of the 100 new technologies of the year by R&D Magazine.

The system, called iSPM, was selected by the editors of the magazine as one of the top technology products of the year. Its inventor, Songhua Xu, an assistant professor of information systems, said iSPM was designed to help medical clinicians make fewer errors when reading images such as X-rays and MRIs. It has the ability to alert clinicians when they are about to make a diagnostic mistake. Although intended for medical employees, iSPM can be used by any employee who uses computer-aided images and makes decisions based on those images. Xu said iSPM uses an eye-tracking headset, a user interface and advanced analytics to predict a medical employee’s perceptual behavior, cognitive response and risk of error.

The project was a team effort and the work took place at ORNL, said Xu. Those who would like more information on the proect can visit http://www.rdmag.com/award-winners/2014/08/better-decision-making.

“The expected benefits of this technology are immense for patients -- better outcomes and lower treatment costs due to earlier intervention -- and for healthcare providers, in terms of lower malpractice costs,” added Xu. “In cancer screening alone,” he added, “iSPM can result in thousands of lives saved while reducing the unnecessary costs and emotional burden of malpractice lawsuits for healthcare providers.”

In this Q&A Xu, a leading computer scientist who uses advanced techniques to build human-centered applications, talks about his latest technology.

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How will iSPM help medical workers and others reduce their errors?

It will reduce errors by alerting the user that he or she is at risk of making a mistake based on their gaze pattern and visual content.  It will also enable the user to study their perceptual and cognitive patterns for each medical image viewed and to understand the types of errors they tend to make, perceptually or cognitively. The iSPM is designed to understand the individual decision behaviors and needs of each user by modeling how they perform visual tasks. Then, iSPM will help users by flagging their medical decisions that are at high risk of being erroneous.

How exactly does it work?

iSPM provides personalized modeling of the user’s preferences, decisions, and decision making errors. The product is equipped with a graphical user interface and an intelligent data analysis engine in its backend for leveraging gaze data. It also includes visual content to predict with high reliability an employee’s perceptual opinions, cognitive decisions, and decision making errors when examining visual content such as medical images for patient disease screening and diagnosis.

Is this in the early stages of science or is it more advanced?

The product is developed and available for technical license. We also have a patent pending on it.

How much it would cost?

The license cost is negotiable at this stage and publicly disclosed.

What exactly will a user get from you once the system is commercialized?

We will provide the whole hardware and software setup for the potential users. But if the user has an eye-tracker we can provide a software-only solution. 

Do you have high hopes for iSPM?

Yes. The societal benefits of iSPM are immense for patients, healthcare providers and the healthcare system as a whole, so it’s a very exciting and a very promising technology.

By Robert Florida