This wearable wants to give ALS patients a voice

A new wearable device is hoping to improve the lives of people with Locked-In Syndrome by helping them to communicate with their loved ones.

Credit: EyeControl

EyeControl is being labelled as the first wearable eye tracking device for patients with Locked-In Syndrome. It allows patients to communicate 24/7 via eye gestures, with audio feedback coming through a stand-alone portable speaker.

Users wear a head-mounted camera which tracks their pupils and through which they can scroll through menu and dialogue options, choosing what they want to say via blinking. The device features other options such as blinking three times to issue an emergency, predefined sentences and users can even teach it personalised syntax.

Locked-In syndrome is commonly associated with motor neurone diseases (MND) such as ALS, stroke and traumatic brain injury. A person with Locked-In syndrome will have full cognitive ability but is unable to move or speak, making communication essentially impossible, unless done through eye movements.

EyeControl is currently being crowdfunded on IndieGogo and as such, the company has only built a working prototype of the device. EyeControl hopes to sponsor devices for individuals with ALS in the UK and will match all support from the public to ensure patients receive a device.

Or Retzkin, CEO of EyeControl, said: “What makes the EyeControl unique is that it has the ability to provide the user with independently controlled communication.” We aim to create a simple to use and competitively priced device to give a voice back to the voiceless.

“The EyeControl introduces a new reality of accessibility for locked-in individuals to communicate with their friends, family, and carers, transforming everyday tasks for both users and their carers. Individuals are now able to communicate immediately upon waking, while in the bathroom, indoors, outdoors and even while travelling – situations that alternative devices have not been able to accommodate. We hope to inspire a new sense of independence for these individuals.”

“We are excited to be working with local communities across the UK and with local professional organisations who are nominating members of their community to receive a device. We also hope to raise awareness of the importance of giving these patients the independence they gain through communication devices,” Retzkin added.



Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via: reece.armstrong@rapidnews.com


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