Ingenious new wearable tracks users’ brain waves to forecast epileptic seizures

For people with epilepsy, the fear of suffering an unexpected seizure can be enough to stop them from venturing out in public. To help instill confidence, medical technology company Epitel has created a new wearable EEG which monitors brain wave activity to help forecast seizures. Using machine learning technology, the Epilog device pairs with users’ smartphones and the cloud, and uses artificial intelligence to predict when a seizure might occur. In doing so, it promises to create an hourly seizure forecast that will allow people with epilepsy (a condition an estimated 1 in 26 people will develop over their lifetime) to plan their day with confidence.

“Seizures are [typically] diagnosed through video and EEG monitoring in the hospital with 26-plus wired electrodes,” Mark Lehmkuhle, CEO and CTO of Epitel, told Digital Trends. “Once a diagnosis is made, the standard of care for long-term seizure tracking is literally pen and paper. These analog, old school, and wildly inaccurate ‘seizure diaries’ are what neurologists have based their decisions on for many years. We sought to build a seizure monitoring system that goes to the source – brain waves. Typical EEG is ugly and not usable for long periods outside of a hospital. It is meant to diagnose a seizure disorder and is not meant for long-term seizure tracking. We replace it with a device that is small and wearable.”

Lehmkuhle’s background is in biomedical engineering and neuroscience, and Epitel was created as a spin-off from the University of Utah, where some of the background research for the technology took place. Specifically, the research focused on finding better ways to track epileptic seizures since these rarely occur in the hospital where EEGs are typically taken.

As ever, we recommend that people use caution when it comes to crowdfunding projects, which can sometimes not ship on time, as promised, or occasionally at all. It’s also important to note that, although Epitel has won numerous awards in recent years, this tech still has yet to be officially classified as a medical device by the FDA. (Part of the reason for crowdfunding development is to drive FDA clearance.) Nonetheless, if you’re aware of these risks and still want to get involved, head over to Indiegogo where the project is currently raising funds. A two-pack of the device costs $350, with shipping planned for July 2020.

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