Philips and Accenture innovation helps ALS patients

07 August 2014

Accenture and Philips have developed a prototype application that allows ALS patients to control their devices through mind control and by using voice and eye commands. If successful the innovation can potentially have a breakthrough impact on the wellbeing of ALS patients. 

The disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, causes people to gradually lose voluntary control over their muscles and can result into complete paralysation without the lose any other brain function. To help ALS patients, or any person with limited muscle and speech function, gain greater control of their lives and environment, Accenture and Philips Healthcare have developed proof of concept software that makes it possible to control devices through brain, voice and eye commands.

How it works
The prototype software works as follows: patients are given a wearable display with sensors installed. These sensors can – with the help of a custom-built built application and software (known as ‘Emotiv Insight Brainware’) – scan EEG brainwaves to detect the thoughts, feelings and expressions of the wearer. By subsequently linking the information of the brainwaves with Philips devices, such as Philips Hue lighting or SmartTV, wearers can use their mind to control the devices. In addition, by transferring these brainwaves to a special tablet application, patients can also control the products with voice and eye commands. “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,” says Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s Chief Technology Officer.

The Emotiv Insight Brainware software and wearable display has been jointly developed by Accenture’s Technology Labs in San Jose (California) and Philips’ Digital Accelerator Lab based in The Netherlands, a unit aimed at turning ideas into innovation. The display’s user interface has been created by Fjord, a design consulting firm that Accenture bought last year and currently is part of Accenture Interactive.

It is not the first time that the two firms have joined forces to co-create an innovation. Last year they announced plans to develop a wearable for specialist doctors at hospitals, with the objective of improving the quality and efficiency of operations. And looking forward, there likely will be more partnerships to come, acknowledges Jeroen Tas, CEO of Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services at Philips. “Philips will continue to collaborate with innovative technology companies such as Accenture to explore new wearable and sensor solutions that change peoples’ lives and create a healthier future.”