Brainwave Technology Breakthrough?

Mike Miliard | Healthcare IT News | August 6, 2014

Philips and Accenture show that mind-control is hardly science fiction

In a project that could be a boon for ALS patients, and potentially others with neurodegenerative conditions, Philips and Accenture have developed proof-of-concept technology that enables users to control devices using brainwaves.  The idea is to combine the wearable Insight technology from Emotiv -- a wireless headset that monitors brainwaves and can translate them into data -- with devices developed by Philips, offering more autonomy to patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and, perhaps someday, other debilitating diseases.

"We've been studying Emotiv brainware, and one day, through a series of brainstorms and conversations, it occurred to us that this was the perfect device for people with limited mobility," Brent Blum, who leads wearable technology R&D at Accenture Technology Labs, tells Healthcare IT News. "As a team, we thought of ALS in particular being a right fit: The mind stays quite sharp; the body atrophies rather quickly, but your mind and thoughts are quite present."

Affecting more than 400,000 people each year, ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, attacks brain and spinal nerve cells, sapping voluntary muscle control. In late stages, patients often become paralyzed while retaining normal brain function.  "Wearable technology really has a potential here to improve the lives of these patients and allow them to have more independence, more freedom and to control the world around them," says Blum...