Accenture and Philips Healthcare have announced a partnership under which the companies will create technology that essentially taps into a patient’s brainwaves.
The basic concept uses Emotiv’s five-channel EEG reader in conjunction with software on an iPad or Android tablet to interpret a user’s intentions.
Accenture's and Philips' proof-of-concept is targeted at people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, widely known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. They're proposing to harness existing technology in a new way to demonstrate how ALS patients can control things like lighting and television, send preconfigured messages and request assistance by using their own brainwaves to execute commands.
Because a tablet is not a practical solution for ALS patients, Accenture has created a wearable display, not unlike Google Glass, and the software needed to communicate from the Emotiv device to the wearable. The visual display uses drop-down menus to interpret the brainwaves into commands.
That same display component also helps users refine instructions, but it is Emotiv’s machine learning algorithms that interpret and trigger the commands.
“The brain waves are there; the patient is thinking about doing some things," said Kaveh Safavi, MD, Accenture's global health lead. "If I want to turn on the lights, as I think, that creates a unique set of patterns. The challenge is that process isn’t perfect, but by allowing visual cues for the user it can be refined and improve calibration of brain waves."
Safavi said solutions like these will improve certain outcomes and enable patients to be more independent - thus reducing healthcare costs.
All the end products in this partnership are Philips devices - such as Philips Hue lighting, SmartTV and Lifeline - with Emotiv becoming the information conduit. Accenture and its Fjord division created the heads-up display, and Accenture and Philips created the software to bring the Emotiv data to the wearable and back to the Philips technology.
Safavi stressed that this solution won't be brought to the marketplace immediately. Rather, it was meant to “stimulate” the market, to demonstrate which applications make the most commercial sense, and to create a broader conversation within the healthcare industry.
Ephraim Schwartz is a freelance writer based in Burlington, Vt. Schwartz is a recognized mobile expert and columnist, having spent 15 years as Editor-at-Large for InfoWorld, half of them covering the mobile space. Prior to that he was Editor-in-Chief of Laptop Magazine.