Games industry veteran developing “wearable second brain” for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers

A wearable memory aid tool that forms part of a “web of care” for sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer’s is being developed by games industry veteran Martin Kenwright through his recently founded digital technology company Starship.

Kenwright is best known for 3D real-time strategy game Wargasm and flight simulator game F-22: Air Dominance Fighter, both developed at his first studio Digital Image Design, as well as Playstation 3 launch title MotorStorm, developed by Evolution Studios.

After selling Evolution to Sony in 2007, Kenwright took time off from the industry to care for family members suffering from dementia.

“I kind of realised there’s something from my business, there’s something that I could do that would not be a magic bullet, but really of make a difference,” Kenwright said in an interview with Factor.

“Before I knew it, I’d filed two patent applications, and the idea essentially was wearable memory. It’s a bit of a sweeping statement and I don’t say it lightly, but it was almost to create the world’s first Alzheimer’s and dementia memory tool,” he explained.

MartinKenwright1

Kenwright was keen not to reveal too many details of the project, known as Forget Me Not, which is still under development, but explained that this would be a wearable product – a “wearable second brain” – that would help the memory-afflicted.

“We could create a technology that could allow people to remember all kinds of objects in the world in-situ, in a way that is completely natural. The idea is of them in a moment of panic being able to recall what they were looking for,” he said.

“It wasn’t that we’ve created some big wearable VR helmet thing, but a proven de-risk, patented game-changing proposition, game technology.”

Kenwright believes that this product, although conceptually strange now, will become a standard wearable for people with memory problems in the future.

“I do generally believe that memory aids will become as common as hearing aids in 5 to 10 years,’ he said.

brain-2

Starship has taken its time developing the technology, in part to allow chips to become more energy-efficient, something that is important to the technology.

“I can’t really go into hardware and software, but hardware companies have seen it and think its brilliant,” he explained. “A lot of people have been coming up with things like Google Glass that are very Orwellian. Finally someone’s looking at something of genuine use and value and need in this sector that can create a win-win: profit and salvation in one as it were.”

However, Kenwright is keen to stress that this isn’t some miracle solution, and will have limitations.

“What we’ve learned with people with a lot of these afflictions is that if you don’t know how to use some of these devices before you are diagnosed, you’ll never be able to learn again,” he explained.

“I think when things do become ubiquitous like Glass and wearables, in just the same way smartphones and smart devices have, it will be part of the furniture and hence become as common as hearing aids. Memory aids will be one and the same.”

Kenwright sees huge potential for wearables as an aid for Alzheimer’s patients.

“You think Alzheimer’s, memory issues; it’s like the biggest state of concern in the US,” he said. “33 million a year afflicted people, $40bn a year being spent on all these wonder drugs and you’ve kind of got to think, does it all have to be about drugs? Can’t we create tools and devices?”


Body image 1 courtesy of Starship Group.


Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC