Taiwan pioneers device to assist those living with MND

New system helps those with motor neuron disease communicate through speech better

Help is at hand for individuals living with MND. (CNA photo)

Help is at hand for individuals living with MND. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A system is being tested in Taiwan to help individuals living with motor neuron disease (MND), who find it difficult to express themselves through speech.

A collaboration between the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association, the smart communication system was developed by scientists from National Taipei University of Technology. The initiative was part of a program to support the country’s most disadvantaged people, CNA reported.

The program focuses on inventing high-tech assistive devices, said Liu Yi-hung (劉益宏), director of the program. Insight gained from researching audio resources, neural oscillations (or brainwaves), and sensory abilities, have been incorporated to develop devices useful for those living with MND.

The system works when eye motion is tracked and analyzed, before the information is exported through an assistive device that allows the individual to communicate with others. The technology can also be applied to smart household systems, enabling those living with MND to control home appliances, such as the air conditioner and television, CNA reported.

Still in the experimental phase, the system has an accuracy rate of 85 percent for individuals with serious MND, Liu said. With international manufacturers expressing an interest, commercial prospects for the system are promising, he added.