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Health IT specialist Royal Philips and technology services provider Accenture announced that they have developed proof of concept software connecting a wearable display to Emotiv Insight that could ultimately give more independence to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“This proof of concept shows the potential of wearable technology in a powerful new way —helping people with serious diseases and mobility issues take back some control of their lives through digital innovation,” says Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer in a press statement.

According to Accenture and Royal Philips, the proof-of-concept technology could enable ALS patients to better control their environment when they lose muscle control. Even when ALS patients lose eye tracking ability they could theoretically use brain commands to control their environment through Emotiv’s sensors that track electric signals of the brain.

ALS, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an incurable neurological disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. As the condition worsens, patients progressively lose control over their muscle action and eventually become completely paralyzed, losing the ability to function or communicate independently, and care for themselves. However, despite their paralysis, patients retain full brain function.

How it works

When a wearable display and the Emotiv Insight, which scans EEG brainwaves, are connected to a tablet, users can issue brain commands to control Philips products including Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service, Philips SmartTV (with TP Vision), and Philips Hue personal wireless lighting. The tablet also allows control of these products using eye and voice commands. In both cases, a person could communicate preconfigured messages, request medical assistance, and control TVs and lights. Accenture and Philips developed the software that enables the integration and interaction between these multiple technologies.

As we have reported earlier, the Emotiv Insight is a wireless 5-channel EEG that is compatible with Windows, OSX, Linux, Android, and iOS operating systems. Retailing at $299, the headset is consumer targeted and has been employed for a variety of applications from research to gaming and music.


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