Philips develops brainwave-controller for ALS patients

Dutch multinational Philips, together with US firm Accenture, has developed proof-of-concept software that helps patients suffering from Amiotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Motor Neurone Disease, to achieve a better quality of life in the latter phases of their lives.

The Braincommand-system

The technology will allow patients with this crippling disease to be able to maintain a degree of independence by being able to command various electronic apparatus, such as TVs, lamps and emergency helplines.

An estimated 400,000 people worldwide suffer from ALS, many with a life expectancy of only 4-5 years. Whilst their physical condition worsens, many becoming totally paralysed, their mental faculties remain intact. Those that can talk can use speech-command tools. Later, they may only be able to use eye-commands, or facial muscles to control essential apparatus.

The Braincommand-system developed by Philips and Accenture, allows patients to operate apparatus using brainwaves transmitted via a special EEG-headset. Using only two separate thought commands, patients can scroll back and forth in a menu of options. Although, as mentioned, the project is only at proof-of-concept phase and is not commercially available yet, it shows much promise for ALS patients and also for many other illnesses.

Philips has a very strong focus on healthcare and the improvement of patients. Their holistic approach seeks to integrate patients with the technology they rely on, and their immediate environment, so as to provide a comprehensive care scenario.