New technology from Philips and Accenture lets ALS patients control home electronics using a brainwave-reading headband.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the Internet of things and connected devices: A computerized world where our refrigerators, thermostats, gym equipment, house lights, and cars are all connected to the Internet and aggregating information in real time. Although a lot of innovations in the area are admittedly overhyped, some new projects are showing an unintended benefit for the Internet of things: Connected devices could dramatically improve quality of life for the severely disabled.
On Tuesday, Accenture and Philips unveiled a prototype, proof-of-concept headset-and-software combo that lets patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, turn lights on and off with their brain waves. The technology uses a brainwave-reading headband called the Emotiv Insight, which is not manufactured by Philips nor Accenture, to trigger power switches by having the user think about them. Philips stresses that the proof-of-concept is not currently on market, and is not undergoing testing as a medical device. Emotiv’s headband then interfaces with Philips’ Hue line of smart lights and other connected devices from the company.