NeuroSky Inc. told me it’s using a “crowdfunding” website to raise $50,000 to develop a new type of assistive technology aimed at people with conditions that severely limit their ability to communicate.
NeuroSky, San Jose, Calif., probably is to the idea of using your brain to run computers today what Xerox PARC was to using a mouse to run a computer back in the 1970s.
NeuroSky already uses EEG brainwave sensing systems and similar systems in computer control headsets. For $129, you can use the new NeuroSky headset to move a computer cursor with your brain.
Crowdfunding is the process of asking the visitors at an investment website to put up the money to fund an interesting project.
NeuroSky plans to invest the $50,000 in crowdfunding money it raises to get software developers to connect its headset with mobile devices, to create cheap, convenient systems that can help people who are “locked in” by conditions such as cerebral palsy express themselves and be more independent.
Today, existing brainwave-based communications technology is expensive, bulky and inconvenient, NeuroSky says.
Of course, the insurance industry is big, and I am small and harried. The NeuroSky people are in Silicon Valley, where the easiest way to raise $50,000 is probably to go work in a restaurant and wait for a new Facebook IPO billionaire to leave a $50,000 tip.
NeuroSky is probably using crowdfunding because that’s a fun, attention-getting gimmick, not because the executives are financing their company with credit cards, IRA cashouts and change left behind in vending machines.
But … what a great marketing gimmick.