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Brainwave tech could help ALS patients control appliancesPatients with Lou Gehrig's Disease can become paralyzed, and technology is now being developed that could let them control smart appliances with their brainwaves. CNET's Kara Tsuboi checks it out.
[NOISE] [MUSIC] Eric Valor has been living with ALS for nearly a decade. He relies on a ventilator, has 24-hour nursing care, and can only communicate by typing out messages with his eyes. I can talk with visitors, but I can also schedule their visits. I can manage my own finances and healthcare. Outside of the physical paralysis that I am still merely as independent and potent as before diagnosis. But while his body has failed him, his brain has not. Technology companies are working to take advantage of that brain power. To help ALS patients regain some control over their lives. Basically, we are able to take your brain wave. And we use the headset to do mental commands. These headsets from Emotiv have multiple sensors to detect brainwaves. You visualize scenes to correspond with commands like left, right, up, and down. For example, thinking of a hot air balloon when you want a remote control helicopter or cursor to go up. You recall the same scene to trigger the same movements. The best way to train the system is to think of sensory experiences. So, for example, I've thought of a hot air balloon, and I not only think of it going up, but I feel the wind against my face. Accenture has designed software to link the headset with Philips smart appliances. Your brain waves navigate the cursor through an app that controls the appliances. It has the potential to turn the Philips tube lights on and off, turn a Philips Smart television on and off, to request emergency medical services through Philips lifeline and also issue preconfigured commands. I'm ready for lunch. This project is still in its early stages. Exentra says there are no immediate plans to make the system publicly available. This kind of. Present the idea that wearables could be used for complex medical uses. ALS i such a complicated disease that they really need to find out more about how to help different people with this type of product, if it were to ever come to market. Valor says the technology would allow ALS. Patients to regain some independence. Technology cannot only enhance abilities, but restore lost abilities due to trauma or disease. So until medical science catches up, technology is the cure for ALS. And a way for Valor to have comfort, a voice, and a connection to the outside world. In San Francisco, I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNet.com for CBS News. [MUSIC]