Kristina Etter   |   May 25, 2022

Futuristic Non-Invasive Health Scanner Detects Cannabis Impairment

Detecting cannabis impairment has been one of the biggest debates since legalization began in 1995, but new health screening technology may finally put the issue to rest.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

Cannabis is nothing like alcohol in terms of how the body metabolizes it. Breathalyzers, cheek swabs, and even blood tests have proven inaccurate, as they can only detect the metabolite, which is not an indicator of impairment.

As a scientist with the National Research Council of Canada with a cross-appointment as a professor at the University of Ottawa, and a Banting fellow specializing in stem cell research - one of only twenty-two fellow recipients from all over the world, Dr. Rahul Kushwah, Interim CEO and Chief Operating Officer Predictmedix has an impressive list of credentials, he brings to cannabis technology.

However, during his time in academia, he started taking note of the scientific and technological innovations from outside his field of study. He also recognized the problem with detecting impairment and gained an appreciation for the other uses of advanced medical screening technology.

“I would always follow the developments that were going on and other fields like science, AI, machine learning, and bioinformatics,” Dr. Kushwah explained. “[There were] all these great things happening outside medicine, why aren't the two sides trying to come together to actually solve real-world problems?”

When Science Fiction Becomes Science

Non-invasive, bioinformatics and touchless vital data collection may sound like something from an episode of Star Trek, but Predictmedix innovation provides highly accurate screening technology to detect many conditions, including respiratory illnesses, COVID-19, mental illness, and even cannabis and alcohol impairment.

Dr. Kushwah added, “We announced the success rates that we have seen with our technology, [which is] hovering somewhere between 70 to 90% in terms of identifying cannabis and alcohol impairment, but the key is, there's no need for a biological fluid. It's quick. It's rapid. It’s non-invasive.”

He continued, “We’re here to use AI and health clients to solve problems. Our screening technologies look like a metal detector - just like those in an airport, but it’s not detecting metals.”

Instead, Dr. Kushwah says a combination of multi-spectral cameras and sensors identify signs and symptoms of infectious disease and mental illness and can even spot invisible signs of cannabis and alcohol impairment such as blood flow to the brain.

Non-Impairment Functions

Not only is Predictmedix working on the clinical trials for the impairment detection and data. They've also initiated clinical trials to detect various infectious diesases, like COVID-19.

The machine’s software can run on the same hardware system. So, technicians can upgrade the machine with new algorithms to screen for infectious diseases. A week later, they may want to test for impairment or do a mental illness screening. Those upgrades and additional algorithms are constantly being updated and improved remotely to keep the technology current and valuable.

Real-World Applications

Dr. Kushwah mentioned that they recently successfully deployed their Infectious Disease Screening Technology at the Formula1 Grand Prix in Austin. With several Predictmedix units there, event security used them to screen for symptoms of COVID before entering the VIP areas. 

"We were able to flag individuals who didn't even know they had COVID, but when they were given a rapid antigen test, they tested positive on the spot, and then they were asked to go home" Dr. Kushwah added.

Imagine airports screening pilots for intoxication, schools screening for contagious diseases, or hospitals screening for vital statistics and intake triage. As Dr. Kushwah states, the possibilities are endless.

Privacy Concerns?

No need to worry says Dr. Kushwah, “we take pride in the fact that our technology is not capturing any personal identifiers. We are not capturing the picture of an individual's face or tracking any data with the system. In other words, the machines are not using facial recognition technology at the same time as the screening."

The COVID-induced “New Normal”

Sometimes people struggle to adapt to change. Before 9/11, metal detectors were not commonplace. And look at the reality now, nearly every building has a metal detector of some type.

“Meanwhile, Dr. Kushwah stated, “workplaces used to talk about health and safety. Sure, they had a few programs, but the reality is there wasn't a lot of emphasis on bringing in technologies that can truly create a safe environment, and that has changed ever since covid-19 came into the picture.

He also believes that technology adoption, especially technologies that create a safe workplace, will continue to expand. They are working on several alternate uses for the Predictmedix scanner, including mental illness.

Predictmedix’s Mental Illness detection algorithms are still in the R&D phase and they are working with clinical Partners to pinpoint various conditions such as dementia, Parkinson's, and depression. Dr. Kushwah explains that “when you're scanning an individual across several different wavelengths, there are some specific areas that you can observe, which show a direct correlation with changes in blood flow, and we can take it to a point where these can identify and detect the earliest signs of mental illness as well.”

Continuing, he said, “Because right now, mental illness diagnosis is entirely subjective. For us, it's not a subjective diagnosis anymore."

In this case, the system uses AI to look for clear signs and symptoms that directly correlate with certain mental illnesses.

The Future of Health Screening

Predictmedix has several patents on this technology, and they are currently seeking new partners for beta testing while they wait for FDA approval in the United States.

Dr. Kushwah stated, “We are actively looking for beta-partners to come on board and work with us on the impairment side of the technology. We have initiated these North American clinical trials, and once the clinical trials are done, we have a third-party independent validation, where those findings can be published.”

 

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