Computer Science freshman creates first low-cost treatment for lazy eye in 36 hours

In September, when Tristan Mortimer, freshman in computer science at Wayne State University, was planning his weekend, partying was not on his mind. Instead, Mortimer and fellow coder Raphael Rouvinov, a high school student from the Chicago area, chose to compete in the MHacks IV Hackathon, hosted by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where students from across the world met with other students excited about building the future.

Pictured right:  Tristan Mortimer and his partner Raphael Rouvinov showcasing the DeLaze application to competition participants

MHacks bills itself as a competition where “students spend 36 hours building anything they can imagine and interact with technology visionaries, founders and mentors. They meet the hottest, most sought-after companies in the world, who are vying for hackers’ attention.” In those 36 hours, Mortimer and Rouvinov created the first-low cost treatment for adult lazy eye, named it DeLaze, and ultimately won the ‘Most Innovative’ prize — a $1000 grant from the venture capital firm KPCB.

DeLaze is an app for Android systems that treats amblyopia, or ‘lazy eye,’ and optimizes the administration of experimental methods prominent in the field. In the past, adults afflicted with lazy eye had no treatment options, and the choices for children were limited and ineffective. However, recent research has shown that using virtual reality (VR) headsets to encourage binocular vision is a new and effective way to treat lazy eye in adults, as well  almost 10 times more effective in children than previous methods. Despite these benefits, using VR to treat lazy eye is not widely used because of the cost of owning a VR headset with proper software for daily and self-administered treatments. In June, however, Google released a low-cost version of a VR headset made out of cardboard. Mortimer explains, “We realized this could be used as a cost-effective implementation for various VR treatments that are impractical because of price, and we decided that developing a low cost treatment for amblyopia, or lazy eye, would have the greatest social impact.” 

  From this competition, Mortimer and Rouvinov have already secured sponsorships and plan on launching the Android beta app soon. For now, DeLaze is exclusively for Android and features a “Tetris”-style game, but they intend to support iOS and add more games in the future, as well as expand the app to be able to diagnose lazy eye. Mortimer says that DeLaze is open source, in active development and will always be free to use.

Pictured left:  Mortimer makes an adjustment to the headset

So what’s next for a freshman student who won his first grant in his first semester at WSU? Mortimer believes that with his engineering education, he is only limited by his imagination. “Engineering is just a way to solve problems,” he says. “I chose WSU because it’s a place where researchers are doing things that have never been done before, and it’s in the middle of a city that’s on the verge of a revival. The way I see it, right now, Wayne State is at the epicenter of a vast amount of opportunities.” 

For more information on DeLaze visit:
http://delaze.me

For more information on the MHacks competition visit:
http://mhacks-iv.challengepost.com/submissions