The in-ear innovation that can change the lives of patients
As a former NHS doctor for 30 years, EarSwitch™ founder Nick Gompertz was inspired by a desire to help people with motor neurone disease (MND/ALS) and cerebral palsy communicate better.
He was intrigued by the story of Jonathan Bryan who has cerebral palsy. Jonathan is non-verbal and was taught by his mother to read and write just by using his eyes to gaze at letters on a perspex board. Nick realised the ear may hold the key to transforming the lives of people like Jonathan.
He discovered that a muscle in the ear – called the tensor tympani – can be voluntarily squeezed and is believed to be one of the last to function in people with MND and ALS. He investigated whether this tiny muscle could be called upon to give back communication – a power most of us are lucky enough to take for granted – to individuals who would otherwise by ‘locked in’.
With research grants from National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR), to enable the EarSwitch™ team to look into what the ear is capable of at the University of Bath, we have made great strides in developing the technology. Our patented sensor, EarControl™, is used by activating the tensor tympani and selecting letters on a digital keyboard similar to the one used by Professor Stephen Hawking.
In recognition of his passion to enhance the quality of life for individuals with impaired communication abilities, Nick is thrilled to have just been invited to be a Patron of the Scott Morgan Foundation. The foundation was set up in the memory of Peter Scott-Morgan who developed MND and wanted to become the first human cyborg. Its mission is, ‘Everyone has a right to thrive. We pioneer technology-driven solutions that empower anyone—whether battling ALS/MND or other extreme disabilities—to live joyfully and meaningfully.’
We are now seeking a funding partner to enable us to progress EarControl™ to the next level - from the proven simple switch, to complex eye and gaze tracking from earphones. Nick says, ‘Given a chance, most people would want the job they do to have a positive impact. I feel really lucky to be building a sustainable business around technology that could change a lot of people’s lives for the better. EarSwitch™ is really focused on people. People are our business.’
To find out more about EarControl™ and our other work, visit www.earswitch.co.uk or contact us at email@example.com.