Five Australian finalists in the 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup fought for the coveted first place in the national Software Design category of the world’s premier student technology competition. The UCEEG Team from the University of Canberra and their Brain Speller design submission was announced the winner. The team has developed a solution providing a faster way for people living with a disability to type with the power of thought. Using the commercially available Emotiv EPOC headset, which can detect mental commands, facial expressions and emotions; these are translated to text by mapping the eight strokes of digital digits.
Team leader Paul Du said he hoped the system could be used to help dementia sufferers and people with severe physical disabilities to improve communication between patients, carers and their families. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics approximately 350,200 Australians need assistance to communicate or have trouble doing so due to disability or disease.
“We’re excited by the opportunity to combine imagination and technology to create a product that will improve lives and genuinely help with an issue that affects so many people in this country.”
The honour has earned the team of budding inventors a spot at the world finals in New York in July. There they will compete with 400 student finalists from around the world that have developed technology to help combat disease, poverty and child mortality and ensure environmental sustainability. A victory would earn the team a $25,000 cash prize to put towards the system.