The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken over social media feeds nationwide, raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as well as money for research through donations. The challenge works like a chain letter. Participants post a video of themselves dumping ice water over their heads and challenging friends to do the same. Those who fail to complete the challenge within 24 hours must donate $100 to an ALS charity. The folks at Phillips and Accenture have not dumped water over their heads (yet), but they have come up with a concept that one day could benefit some of the 400,000 people living with ALS. ALS impairs brain and spinal cord nerve cells, causing diminished voluntary muscle action, which can lead to paralysis. Although the disease impairs movement, it leaves brain functions intact.
With that in mind, Phillips and Accenture have come up with a proof of concept that would give ALS patients the ability to communicate with caretakers and control Phillips products, such as medical alert services, SmartTVs, and wireless lighting with their minds. When a wearable display and the Emotiv Insight Brainware, which scans EEG brainwaves, are connected to a tablet, users can issue brain commands to control connected devices. The user navigates a visual interface using simple mind commands such as “left” or “up”. The information is sent to a tablet application, which processes the information and activates the devices that are wirelessly connected. Check out the video below for more information. The proof of concept is not a product that is currently available for purchase. The project was intended to demonstrate how existing technology could be used to transform the quality of life for ALS patients.
“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,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer.
“Empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s disease to live fuller lives is at the heart of the ALS Association’s mission,” said Ineke Zaal, spokesperson for Stichting ALS in The Netherlands. “We are tremendously excited about the potential for this proof of concept to give people with ALS greater independence and quality of life as we continue to actively search for a cure.”