Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 08, 2014

Philips and Accenture Develop Interactive Display for ALS Patients

In an exciting announcement on Wednesday, health company, Royal Philips, and management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, Accenture, have demonstrated the feasibility of creating interactive software that can be used by ALS patients. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), severely affects muscle ability to the point of paralysis and until this concept’s birth has made technology essentially inoperable for patients.

The system consists of a wearable display and Emotiv’s Insight Brainware, which scans electroencephalography (EEG) brainwaves, connected to a tablet. A user can then use voice, eye or even brain commands, to control connected products which, as of now, would include the Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Service, Philips SmartTV (with TP Vision), and Philips Hue personal wireless lighting. The technology allows for a user to communicate using preconfigured messages, easily request medical assistance and control the TV and lights around them.

The cutting edge Emotiv technology has sensors that pick up on electric signals regarding thoughts, feelings and expressions from the user’s brain in order to navigate through the application’s menus in real time. This is especially useful when the patient’s ALS has progressed to the point of little or no muscle ability.

Accenture Technology Labs and the Philips Digital Accelerator Lab collaborated to create the software which interacts with the wearable display as well as Emotiv Insight Brainware. Interface design was handled by Fjord, a design company owned by Accenture.

The two companies hope to use this technology as a jumping-off point for future developments in applications for health improvement.

“While the ALS patient population is the initial focus, the proof of concept has the potential to focus on anyone with limited muscle and speech function, providing them with the ability to communicate and issue commands, using their brains,” said Thibaut Sevestre, innovation lead for IT architecture and platforms for Philips. “The proof of concept could possibly be extended beyond ALS patients. Patients with Locked-in-Syndrome, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and paraplegia could also benefit, potentially giving them control over specific commands via the a wearable display technology.”

Innovations brought by these two companies are a stepping stone within a fast-moving process of vastly improving healthcare practices. A dedication to helping patients, along with an embracement of new technology, is essential to the betterment of life for current and future patients alike.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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