When inventor Erik Lundström was in a hospital eleven years ago he met a seventeen year old girl who was totally paralyzed after a diving accident. She told him about her wish be able to continue with photography and he took it as a challenge; he decided there and then to come up with the necessary technology. His starting point was a far-fetched idea that he could use ECG sensors. They are designed to sense the movements of heart muscles but Lundström used them to capture movements of facial muscles instead. The device this resulted in was clumsy and ugly but it worked. After that he developed the technology to enable people with different kinds of disabilities to control computers via eye movements.
By combining these solutions with already known technology his company Penny has now produced the C-more interactive glasses. They replace screen, keyboard and mouse and control a pocket PC. The glasses contain two micro screens that are reflected on the eyes and the sidepieces contain sensors that capture movements of the jaws. At the same time the wearer sees what’s in front of him or her.
Even though the concept was born to make technology accessible to users with disabilities the most interesting aspect from a business perspective is that it has great potential in so many other contexts. Surgeons, dentists and different kinds of mechanics can make use of hands free computer equipment. Not to mention the computer game industry. The same phenomenon is described in my earlier post about the BRIGHT Atom teaching aid; an invention that is generated by the specific needs of a minority turns out to be useful also to many people not belonging to that minority. This is one reason why diversity drives innovation.