Video Game Software Patented for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Research

January 20, 2022

Machine Learning Software for OCT Images Aids in Identify Progression and Treatment Options

DALLAS, January 18, 2022 – BALANCED Media|Technology (BALANCED), in partnership with the Retina Foundation of the Southwest (RETINA) and Southern Methodist University (SMU), today announced a patent-pending medical imaging technology (U.S. Patent Application Serial No.16/538,662) that uses automated software and a video game to provide standardized, accurate, and precise identification of ocular diseases including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of visual impairment in the world.

BALANCED, RETINA, and SMU also signed a 10-year exclusive license, development, and commercialization agreement for BALANCED to bring the medical imaging technology to the $35 billion AI healthcare market.

To assist RETINA, BALANCED created and crowd-sourced an original video game, Eye in the Sky: Defender. The game uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) retinal images embedded in the game’s environment to create human-computational image segmentation. As players predict the path of the alien force in the game, they unknowingly learn to trace lines used to perform diagnostic measurements of OCT retinal scans and create new datasets.

When integrated with BALANCED’s HEWMEN® artificial intelligence (AI) platform, these new datasets were used by experts at RETINA and researchers at SMU to provide the information needed to train a machine learning (ML) algorithm to analyze OCT images more accurately and precisely.

“Human and machine collaboration is the next step in machine learning and AI,” said Corey Clark, deputy director of research and assistant professor of computer science and engineering for SMU Guildhall, an assistant professor of Computer Science at SMU Lyle School of Engineering and CTO at BALANCED. “This application is a great example showing how injecting human knowledge and intuition into the machine learning process is able to create something that neither were capable of doing on their own. This is just the first step. I believe we will see many more exciting things come from these collaborations in the future.”

By leveraging this sophisticated level of human-in-the-loop (HITL) computational model, as well as human computational gaming (HCG), it’s now possible to use AI to quickly analyze millions of individual datasets (retinal images) to detect patterns and pathologies that would have been impossible or impractical given the scope.

“This technology could be a game-changer for researchers and drug manufacturers in the data analyzation of disease progression, drug trials, and treatment efficacy for age-related macular degeneration, among other diseases,” said Dr. Karl Csaky, CEO, and CMO at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest. “With this technology we are seeing substantial improvements to image analysis, decreasing our time and cost, and seeing a significant increase in the number of images processed and associated accuracy and precision of image processing.”

Dr. Csaky recently joined BALANCED as an advisor, assisting the company as it prepares to bring its medical imaging technology to market. Dr. Csaky has more than 140 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and is an expert in clinical research and drug delivery development as it pertains to retinal diseases. Dr. Csaky is a member of the Macula Society, Retina Society, and American Academy of Ophthalmology, ARVO, and the American Society of Retinal Specialists.

Research was made possible with a $2.5 million grant
Supported by a $2.5 million grant award from the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), RETINA and SMU Lyle School of Engineering partnered in a collaborative venture six years ago to help to rapidly prototype new diagnostic and clinical treatment approaches, focusing on the specific needs of patients who are losing their vision to age-related macular degeneration. The research behind today’s patent filing is the result of that effort.

“We are so glad to see this application of human-machine collaboration in a gaming environment making a difference to the critical health challenge of AMD,” said Marc Christensen, Dean of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. “We think this activity is a prime example of how AI and gaming technology are permeating far-reaching corners of our everyday lives.”

About BALANCED | Media Technology
BALANCED is a purpose-driven AI company that crowdsources human interaction and intuition through human computational gaming to bring purpose to play. By crowdsourcing artificial intelligence through online communities and gaming via its HEWMEN platform, BALANCED aids researchers investigating new treatments by creating AI-enabled technologies that reduce research time and cost and increase research effectiveness. BALANCED, a 2019 and 2020 Tech Titans® winner, has been recognized as an industry innovator by multiple groups including the Dallas Business Journal and Dallas Innovates. Headed by founders in data science, computing, video game development, and the medical/healthcare industries, the company is based in McKinney, Texas, and can be found online at

About SMU
SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas.  SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.

About the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Engineering Management, Information, and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering. Lyle students participate in programs in the unique Deason Innovation Gym, providing the tools and space to work on immersion design projects and competitions to accelerate leadership development and the framework for innovation; the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, helping students develop nontechnical skills to prepare them for leadership in diverse technical fields; the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, developing new methodologies for incorporating engineering education into K-12 schools; and the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity, combining technological innovation with business expertise to address global poverty.

About Retina Foundation
Established in 1975, the Retina Foundation is a world-renowned research institute with the unwavering mission to prevent vision loss and restore sight through innovative research and treatment. The Retina Foundation develops potential treatments for patients with various eye diseases through laboratory science and clinical trials. Our three core research areas are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), inherited eye diseases, and pediatric eye conditions. Each year, the Retina Foundation sees more than 2,300 adults, children, and infants, referred by their eye care provider, completely free of charge for specialized vision evaluations, genetic testing and counseling, and participation in clinical trials.


Please consider donating to the Retina Foundation to support our mission to prevent vision loss and restore sight through innovative research and treatment.

Video Game Software Patented for Age-Related Macular Degeneration Research

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