Ukraine’s Anima tests mental health via webcam

The Ukrainians have launched a neurotechnology startup, Anima, which aims to help people prevent mental disorders. Anima enables online early diagnosis of dangerous mental conditions using eye-tracking analysis. The founders call the tool a mental thermometer.

  • Anima was founded by Roman Havrysh, the managing partner at Aimbulance (CEO), and Sergey Danilov, Ph.D. in Neuroscience. They have been working on the project for three years since the idea was born and a year since the start of active development.
  • Previously, only psychologists and psychiatrists offline at a clinic could do a psychiatric assessment, but now, Anima can do it online. Moreover, according to Havrysh, the startup provides a more in-depth analysis thanks to eye-tracking technology, which is only now entering the market from scientific laboratories.
  • As the founders told AIN.Capital, they invested more than $100,000 of their own money in Anima without any outside investment.

How it works

According to Anima, eye-tracking technology is an effective evidence-based remote diagnosis of mental states. The test is based on tracking eye movements with a camera and determining attention bias. All you need to take the neuropsychological test is a laptop with a camera, the Internet, and Google Chrome.

The test is only available on a computer in the Google Chrome browser. Webcams record eye movements to measure one’s focus in response to different stimuli. It helps to assess:

  • a state of critical neurological systems
  • how quickly they are ready to respond to danger
  • emotional states of other people and potential rewards

Based on the user’s behavior, the instrument analyzes anxiety, depression, and the estimated risk of developing a mental condition.

“By analyzing eye movements, the way people notice and hold their attention on emotional, threatening stimuli, we can determine the level of anxiety or depression and how promising and safe people perceive the world around them,” Sergey Danilov explains.

Target audience and monetization

The startup focused primarily on the military since they are under considerable mental strain during the full-scale war. According to Anima, the startup collaborated with military hospitals and psychologists, including those at the front lines.

“Classic psychological tests only partially solve the problem of monitoring soldiers’ stress readiness. Anima solves the issue of determining combat readiness and allows timely detection of unwanted changes in a military’s mental state after and between battles for timely and rapid rehabilitation,” tells Viktor Komarenko, a military psychologist of Azov.

  • Anima is available for free to military personnel. If you are a military psychologist or therapist working with displaced or vulnerable populations, you can get access at [email protected].
  • In response to the growing threat of population disorders and the need for financial stability, the startup has also launched a public version of the service. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 Ukrainians has a significant risk of disorders.
  • For civilians, the application has several tariff plans, starting from $10 for a test that allows you to diagnose your mental state. Money from monetization will be used for free testing for the military and further development of the product.
  • Anima for civilians was released on February 6. As Roman Havrysh told the editor of AIN.Capital, the platform got several thousand visitors and hundreds of users in two days. As for the military version, the work there is more time-consuming and personalized, which also includes long-term therapy. Anima is not only a diagnostic tool but also a progress meter for several hundred patients.
  • The team plans to make Anima a commercial project in the future, primarily in Western markets. They are currently working on a US launch.