Abigail Klein Leichman
January 8

Tel Aviv-based EyeControl offers a groundbreaking wireless system enabling communication for people unable to speak due to degenerative muscular conditions or medical procedures such as intubation.

For the past year and a half, Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital have been testing EyeControl on intubated ICU patients to determine if facilitating communication can ease recovery and prevent nightmares and hallucinations (delirium) that typically affects up to 80 percent of such patients.

After many Israeli soldiers with head injuries began arriving in the Assuta ICU since the start of the war with Hamas, the hospital decided to give the device to each ventilated soldier, apart from the study.

The screen-free system is composed of a wireless head-mounted device. Through voice indications projected from a speaker positioned beside the ear, users can audibly navigate menus and make selections via eye movements, like blinking.

The infrared camera on the unit captures these eye movements and sends them to a cloud-based platform that translates them into speech (in a choice of languages) using artificial intelligence. The patient can also use the earphone to hear recorded music or messages.

Unlike typical eye-based communication systems, which use eye movement to “point” at icons on an external screen, EyeControl’s technology turns the eye into a joystick, resulting in more accurate outcomes, according to the company.

High-tech communication aids intubated patients in ICU
EyeControl allows “locked-in” users to communicate even in darkness, using an infrared camera and AI interpretation of eye movements. Photo courtesy of EyeControl

The FDA-approved device allows users to define eye gestures for communication based on their preferences and motor abilities. Menus are directly played into the user’s ear, ensuring privacy. This is in contrast to other systems that display navigation on an external screen visible to all.

The EyeControl system can even operate in complete darkness when the patient wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to call for help.

EyeControl has won several prizes since 2017, including the Genesis Prize for its substantial contribution to the treatment of Covid-19. It is approved for insurance reimbursement from public healthcare systems in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel.

EyeControl also makes a home device providing a comprehensive communication solution for patients transitioning from medical facilities to remote home care and for other “locked-in” individuals who cannot speak.

EyeControl was established in 2016 by cofounders who all have personal connections to locked-in individuals: Or Retzkin, Itai Kornberg and ALS patient Shay Rishoni. Rishoni passed away in 2018.

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