Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions | MedTech Startup Idea

This MedTech Startup Idea from the 1001 Startup Ideas collection of YoStartups is to make an application for Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions. The app will use set of hardware to measure the electric signals at the neuron level and analyze it to find the right emotion.

Market Definition for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation presented a study in 2013 based on research into the prevalence of paralysis across the US. According to the study, there are nearly 1 in 50 people living with paralysis, which would be approximately 5.4 million people. And what was alarming was that the number was nearly 40% higher than the previous estimates.

Based on a report by World Stroke Organization, stroke has already reached epidemic proportions. 1 in 6 people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. It is also found to be a leading cause of death for people above the age of 60 years, and the fifth leading cause for the people aged between 15 to 59 years. Stroke is responsible for more number of deaths annually than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and is also one of the leading causes of long-term disability worldwide.

Competition Analysis for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

While there are not many commercialized solutions in the market, several research projects are going on around the world to study the brain signal patterns and predict the motions. Researchers at Dartmouth College have been studying the brain signatures to predict emotions for some time, and they have claimed a success rate of around 90% to predict the emotion with certainty.

Russia based ORBI Foundation has come up with an exclusive communication application for stroke paralyzed people helping them to communicate their emotions with friends and family. They use Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) to get the data about brain activity, which is then transferred to a mobile device for filtering out the noise. Finally, through the application, the filtered signal is processed to predict the emotion and translate it to human language.

Pain Point and Target Audience for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

The target audience for the startup would be stroke paralyzed patients who are having long-term physical disability and speech disorder.

Speech disability is quite common in stroke patients. Most of the times, even when the brain works properly, patients are not able to control the muscles of their face, mouth, and throat resulting in a difficulty to speak clearly, and at times they are completely mute. If the condition prolongs, the speech disability can take a toll on the overall well being of the patient leading to depression. It equally affects the family member of the patient as they have no clue about the patients’ needs and his condition.

Value Proposition for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

The proposed solution will provide a communication tool for the stroke patients suffering from symptoms of Aphasia, Dysarthria or Apraxia. In most of these cases, patients are reported to have healthy intelligence and emotional level and it’s just their inability to communicate their facial and throat muscles which leads to communication problems.

Using the proposed solution, the brain signals can be received and analyzed using ElectroEncephaloGraph, popularly known as EEG. These sensors (electrodes) can be placed directly into the gray matter of the brain for receiving better brain signals. These signals can then be transferred to the cloud server where the signal will be filtered and then analyzed against the recorded brain patterns of the previous patterns to predict a most suitable emotion. The startup can incorporate machine learning algorithms to keep refining the prediction algorithm based on patient’s previous brain patterns and verified emotions.

Overall the solution will help patient to communicate his emotions to his friends and family members, who in turn would be in a better position to cater to patient’s care and needs. The solution will be of great help to get the patient out of depression and fell connected with his surrounding.

Business Model for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

The startup will work on SaaS-based monthly/quarterly subscription model. The startup will provide electrode hardware for EEG, which will be one-time cost for the users. Post which the startup can charge subscription fees for the application, which will pull information from the electrodes and process it over the cloud to predict the patient’s emotions.

The startup can provide other features like long-term health and well-being reporting based on the historical, emotional and psychological pattern of the patient. It can also set emergency response mechanism for the patients as well.

Way to Market for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

There is a deep level of medical science involved with the proposed idea. The startup should look to partner with one of known stroke specialty hospital or a large medical research facility. By working with these partners, the startup can get access to the test patients who would be happy to try the early product and help it refine with their valuable feedback.

Once the product is refined and has a repository of a large number of brain patterns and the related emotions, the startup can look to launch its product officially. The startup should continue to partner with the more number of stroke specialty hospitals as they would be the most trusted source for their business development process.

The startup can choose to offer its services for free until the patient is admitted at the hospital, and post which the patient’s family member get the option to take the service on a paid subscription model.

Key Milestones for 1001 Startup Ideas – Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

The partnership with stroke specialty medical centers and having successful test cases will be the key parameters for the startup. They should look to partner with upto five medical centers in first six months and complete upto 50 test cases in the first year.

Investment Needed for Prototyping | Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

A medical research facility would be needed for developing and testing the product, so it is advisable that the startup develops the product in collaboration with a medical research facility or stoke specialty hospital. If the startup successfully gets any of the above-mentioned partners, it should not need more than 75k USD to develop the complete prototype.

Team Capability | Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

The startup must have a neurologist and Big Data/Machine Learning expert as its co-founders. It would also be good to have a full stack developer in the team for the application development and managing data backend.

Investor/Expert Take | Helping Paralysed Patients to Communicate Emotions

There are millions of people worldwide who are in desperate need of the proposed solution, as they are left out isolated because of their inability to properly communicate. Once mastered the mapping between brain signals and corresponding emotions for stroke patients, the solution can be re-engineered to work for visually disabled people as well. The system can perceive the environment or an object using computer vision and correspondingly generate brain signals to create an image in the person’s brain.

All in all, there is huge application and market opportunity for a solution that can understand brain signals and researchers around have been actively working on it. All it takes for an entrepreneur to carefully study the available technologies and formulate a niche working solution.

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