Karishma Muthukumar developed an emoticon keyboard, called OutLoud, to allow patients with Locked-In Syndrome to easily communicate complex ideas. Using eye movements and EEG, a patient can manipulate an emotion-based keyboard to converse with caregivers and loved ones.


What inspired you (or your team)? 

As a volunteer for a brain injury center, my experience meeting a patient with Locked-in Syndrome became my inspiration to develop a means of communication. Upon further research, I discovered that current methods were not only expensive but also inefficient. While thinking of potential solutions, I was toying with my phone when I landed on an emoji page. I had found my answer: I would develop a communication board based on emojis, integrating Artificial Intelligence and Brain-Computer Interface for efficient communication.


Tell us about the innovation, what materials or toolsets you used, what it does, how it works, why it is important.

Trapped in silence. Patients with conditions like Locked-in Syndrome, those in emergency care, and those in intensive care share the struggle to communicate. By selecting emojis using Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), patients have the ability to express themselves effortlessly and relatively quickly. This technology crosses cultural and language barriers as knowledge of a certain language becomes immaterial. Symbols allow patients to be able to express how they are feeling (happy emoticon), where they want to go (house emoticon), and even what they want to eat (burger emoticon). This innovation pairs an inexpensive Brain-Computer Interface system (EEG amplifier, LCD touchscreen, and electrodes) with a computerized emoji communication board. Emojis within the board are categorized for ease of access. The user mentally selects an emoji by visualizing the movement of their left arm. The visualization shifts the cursor while inactivity results in the selection of the emoji. Providing a voice, this innovation will improve patient-caregiver interactions and reduce medical error.

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