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Technology that lets 'locked-in' syndrome sufferers communicate makes Invent 2015 shortlist

By Margaret Canning

Published 01/06/2015

The finalists have been selected in the Invent 2015 competition, which aims to turn the best innovations into businesses
The finalists have been selected in the Invent 2015 competition, which aims to turn the best innovations into businesses

Wearable technology enabling sufferers of 'locked-in' syndrome to communicate by translating their brainwaves is among the finalists in a competition to find our best inventions.

Dr Damien Coyle from NeuroConcise has been working on his innovation for 15 years - and now it's one of 12 to make it through to the final of the Invent 2015, a programme run by the Northern Ireland Science Park.

The Londonderry man said: "NeuroConcise will benefit people who have no means of communication whatsoever.

"A lot of them have been in a so-called "locked-in" state or in some cases, people don't even know if they are aware of their surroundings or not. Our technology will first of all provide clarity around their awareness and secondly, offer them a movement-free communication channel."

The technology can non-invasively measure and translate brainwaves into control signals, allowing people to communicate and interact without moving.

Dr Coyle had to pitch his technology to a team of entrepreneurs to be in with a chance of winning a position on the NI Tech Mission to California, a share of the £33,000 prize fund, as well as mentoring, networking and business development from the NI Science Park's NISP Connect.

The final of the programme will take place in October - but last Thursday night, 24 hopefuls had to present their concept, before facing questions from the judges.

Other finalists who emerged from Thursday night's event include Chirag Gujral of Queen's University, who has discovered a method of reducing the effects of eye diseases, and brothers from the north coast who have used their love of surfing to set up their own surfboard company Skunkworks.

The animal world is also represented by EquiNutritive Equi-Liquid Gold - an anti-inflammatory supplement for horses which helps their general well-being.

Alexandra Frazer from Equi-liquid Gold said: "I'm looking forward to what's to come over the next few months in the lead-up to the final.

"I definitely want to tap into the export markets and expand with other product ranges and become a leader in the equine supplement industry. It's a long road ahead but this competition is definitely an amazing step up the ladder for new technologies."

Organiser Peter Edgar said: "QuickPitch is the semi-final stage of Invent, which is all about telling the story of a breakthrough idea which has the potential to change an industry or solve a global problem which can make people's lives better. It's fast and exciting."

Julie Ann O'Hare, director of business banking at Bank of Ireland UK, which sponsors Invent 2015, said: "I congratulate all 24 finalists on their excellent pitches and encourage them to stick with it."

Belfast Telegraph

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