Interview with Jarrod Fath of BrainControl, Winner of the 2013 EU eHealth Competition
Denise Silber: Which healthcare problem(s) does your company intend to solve and how did the founder decide to create a company?
Jarrod Fath: LiquidWeb has developed BrainControl, a technology that lets people with severe disabilities control objects with their thoughts, allowing them to control a communicator, home automation (lights, windows, etc) a wheelchair, etc. We decided to apply this technology in the assistive technologies market first because it is where the technology is needed the most.
BrainControl came out of five years’ of research at the University of Siena between the Computer Science and Neurology Departments. Engineer Pasquale Fedele decided to found Liquidweb s.r.l to make BrainControl commercially available after seeing the potential of the system and seeing that no BCI systems were commercially available despite many years of research. For more information, visit www.braincontrol.com.
DS: What are your leading services and their advantages over other options?
JF: I mentioned that we let people control a computer with their thoughts, right?
BrainControl represents an amazing and exciting breakthrough. At the moment, the primary assistive technologies for people with severe disabilities include eye-tracking systems, which follow the movement of user’s eyes but are not usable by many patients, or residual movement-based systems, which require specific customization and are not usable by all patients.
The first version of BrainControl, the basic communicator, has been designed around the needs of people who cannot use any other assistive technologies, including people who cannot move any muscles or communicate but who are consciously aware, a state called “locked-in” or “apparent coma”. It has been amazing to watch some of our users communicate again after years of not communicating, and to see the impact it has on them and their families. We’ve also found that some people want to use this first version alongside their current assistive technologies, even if we haven’t developed the majority of the functions that we plan to develop, because of the portability, the ability to use it while outside (sunlight can interfere with eye-tracking systems), and not requiring recalibration at every use.
JF: The LiquidWeb team has a diversity of experience and is passionate about making BrainControl available to customers. CEO/Founder Pasquale Fedele’s more than ten years in the ICT field include consulting, project management, software design, programing, research and teaching. Business Development Manager Jarrod Fath has spent the last six years in management roles in both for-profit and non-profit social ventures in the US, Asia and Africa. Pasquale’s technical know how is reinforced by Software Designer Lorenzo Tanganelli’s 5 years of software and web development experience. Advisor Gianluca Cecchetti brings 20 years of business strategy and start-up expertise and advisors Dr. Giuseppe Greco and Dr. Maria Giovanna D’Amato, neurologist and director of the local health agency, respectively, both work daily with our target customers.
DS: What objective reasons should lead us to believe in your success?
JF: BrainControl fills a technological void and will increase the quality of life of users, their families, friends and caretakers. The system gives patients the opportunity to interact and communicate at levels unimaginable until a few years ago. It will be possible for them to communicate feelings and needs, to move their own wheelchair, to interact with family and friends through social networks, email or SMS, to turn the lights on or off, and even open or close doors and windows. These daily actions are small for most of humanity, but a large breakthrough for those suffering from neuro-muscular degenerative diseases and brain damage of traumatic or ischemic origin.
On the business side, BrainControl is clearly differentiated from its few competitors, is scalable, is a first mover in a large, global market and has a passionate and diverse team behind it.
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