New Christmas ‘Tap a Tempo’ web app to aid Parkinson’s research

Artificial intelligence combines with the psychology of dance to explore the link between music and mobility

Austin Clark | 20th Dec 17

Dance psychologist Dr Peter Lovatt (Dr Dance) is searching for the world’s grooviest person and he is calling on the UK public to aid his groundbreaking research into Parkinson’s disease, with the launch of “Tap a Tempo”, a website designed to capture insights into the link between music and movement.

The game encourages users to tap along to a Christmas jingle and then tasks them with keeping the beat when the music stops. Players are then given a scientifically-derived “Groove score” based on how successfully they keep the beat.

The game runs on the Qualtrics Research Core platform, which will capture the hundreds of thousands of taps produced by the game, and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse this data for patterns and insights.

The results will be fed into Dr Lovatt’s Parkinson’s research programme at the Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire, set up in 2008 to explore connections between dancing, mobility and health and to gain a better understanding of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Lovatt comments: “Research has shown that when people with Parkinson’s disease dance it can lead to significant positive changes in some of their physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms. For example, there are improvements to balance, walking and problem solving and there are positive changes to quality of life and mood. Moving to music has profound effects on people with Parkinson’s.

“When people play the Groovometer game, we get a huge amount of unique ‘Groove’ data, and this data tells us about the timing mechanisms in the human brain. These neurological timing mechanisms link music and movement and once we have a better understanding of these, we hope to have a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease.”

Commenting on the development of the app, Jimmy White, Head of EMEA Engineering Services at Qualtrics, says: “It’s a privilege working with Dr Peter Lovatt to develop such a unique platform for academic research and data collection. Using a combination of the Qualtrics platform, a talented team and a gamified front-end, we’ve built a unique approach to gathering insights, with a free, crowdsourced approach to data collection.

To find out your own unique Groove score, visit www.tapatempo.com.