ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gherig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that destroys nerves cells in the brain and spinal cord. As the nerve cells die, motor control is lost and the patient gradually becomes paralysed. ALS affects around 30,000 people in the United States, with 5,000 new cases each year.
According to a report from Neurogadget, L.A. graffiti artist TemptOne was diagnosed with ALS in 2003. By 2009, his condition had deteriorated so much that he was no longer able to follow his spray-painting passion. Then a group of developers at Not Impossible Labs created the EyeWriter. This was a wearable eye tracker that allowed Tempt to use his creative talents once more.
The open-source system had the ability to follow the artist’s eyes and project their movements onto the side of a building. Although the EyeWriter was the perfect outlet for Tempt, unfortunately, he eventually lost the ability to move his eyes. Undefeated, the developers at Not Impossible Labs took the challenge head on and created a brain-computer interface system called BrainWriter.
The device, launched at London’s “Digital Revolution” exhibit, uses the OpenBCI Arduino platform and the open-source 3D printed “spider claw” headset. Sam Bergen, team leader at Not Impossible Labs, describes BrainWriter as “a next-generation device that reads basic brain waves (EEG) to engage and disengage a computer mouse, allowing the user to draw using only their thoughts. Inspired by combing the simplicity and functionality of The EyeWriter with the intelligence of devices like OpenBCI, the BrainWriter will enable graffiti artist Tempt to continue to draw as his disease progresses.”
Not Impossible Labs has a number of other ongoing projects, which provide technological solutions to help humanity, including Project Daniel, for which they created a prosthetic arm using a 3D printer.