Cognixian is a startup designing an intuitive brain-monitoring headset and interface for people with physical disabilities Raised a $12MA Round To further your reach ambitions. With this funding, it should be able to meet the long list of needs needed to make any medical or assistive device widely available.
The company, which I covered in detail in May, makes a headset that uses electroencephalography to detect certain patterns of brain activity, which are then used to guide cursors and navigate a full-featured interface. is used. It uses an iPhone as its own “brain” and for a display, and ties in with accessories such as speakers and accessibility devices so that the user can do everything they need in a single UI.
The progress on which it is all built is a new type of (non-invasive) electrode and a machine learning system that quickly interprets the signals produced by those embedded in headsets. While EEGs are useful, they are generally slow and noisy, but Cognixian’s approach makes them quick and relatively accurate—enough that a person can reliably navigate a modern UI using their brain.
It is so severe for the physically disabled that joysticks, gaze tracking devices, or other normal accessibility options are not possible. In that case the options for people are few and far between and the ones available are slow and tedious to use.
Since coming out of stealth mode, Cognixian has been working on various tasks related to putting an accessory in the market. While the company has conducted some pilot trials with early adopters, it needs more to justify the types of approvals for insurance, Medicaid, and the like, not to mention reaching a level where caregivers Are comfortable recommending the device.
“Two big topics recently have been in the areas of clinical and regulatory work, as well as optimization and efficiency,” said CEO and co-founder Andreas Forsland. “We have a group of approximately 150 users, physicians and caregivers involved as an advisory council in all of our development processes, so we are consistently getting very rich feedback from that group. We already have several on the hardware. The times have been iterative but are quickly approaching the final design; moving beyond that, the rapid improvements we’re seeing right now are focusing on user interface and language system design.”
Two new features in particular are rolling in: first, a predictive speech algorithm that will help users piece together complete sentences quickly, and adapt to their partial needs. The second is direct Alexa integration. Cognixian is working with Amazon to power and integrate the headset as a true smart device hub, not just a tunnel for common voice commands or questions.
“We are incredibly grateful to Amazon’s Alexa team for their support through this process, and for giving Amazon the exceptions we generally need to get it done,” Forsland said. “Context is important on this one; Right now there isn’t any augmented communication device or anything in assistive technology that typically interfaces directly with home automation tools. So it’s a huge first for the accessibility industry, but it’s also a first in terms of universal design in general.”
The $12 million round was led by Prime Movers Lab, with participation from Northwell Health, Amazon Alexa Fund and Volta Circle.
“You’d think the Cognixian One is out of science fiction, if it doesn’t already exist,” Primer Movers Lab GP Amy Krauss said in the company’s press release. “We believe this will be a fundamentally life-changing and integral blending of AI software platform with hardware, which will help people of all ages living with speech and motor disabilities including cerebral palsy, brainstem stroke, ALS and many other conditions. will help.”
While it will still be a while before a headset is available for purchase, Forsland said they have already created a reseller and distributor that works with practically every research university. Things are looking good for this innovative approach to accessibility and hopefully soon it will be in over the head for anyone who needs it.