CHALLENGE ME to make the impossible possible
By Dexter Ang
Co-founder & CEO, Pison Technology
Watching my mother struggle to interact with the world as her ALS progressed was extremely difficult for our family, and for me personally. Her challenges inspired me to find solutions that could help other people with ALS to better interact with computers and their environment, even after they have lost almost all of their ability to move.
Steve Saling, a former landscape architect who has been living with ALS since 2006, and founder of the ALS Residence Initiative, once said, “Until medicine proves otherwise, technology is the cure.” In this spirit, I was motivated to advance technology to bring a new quality of life to people living with ALS.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Ice Bucket Challenge, I was able to launch my company, Pison Technology, when we won the $100,000 prize in The ALS Association’s Assistive Technology Challenge in 2016. These funds were used to take my ideas for assistive technology from concept into development. I am grateful every day for the millions of people who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge and created a whole new environment for those of us working to empower people living with ALS to live more fulfilling lives.
Our technology is able to capture nerve signals of people with ALS, from any remaining movement they have, and translate them into commands to control their computers and home devices. It can be utilized throughout disease progression, and is intuitive, easy to use and can be customized to different parts of the body. This allows people who have little or no mobility to still communicate and interact with their environment and the outside world.
We continue to test methods to personalize our assistive technology, and our work has demonstrated results so exciting that Pison Technology has received additional investments from the National Science Foundation; National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research; and the Department of Health and Human Services to further develop it for people with ALS and other neuromuscular diseases.
Communication is essential to our existence and our connections with others, whether it’s expressing a want or a need, or just telling someone you love them. Until there are effective treatments and cures, it’s critical that we continue to innovate and create new technology to use as a bridge between people living with ALS and the physical functions that the disease takes away from them.
The Challenge Me campaign picks up where the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge left off. On behalf of our Chapter’s Board of Directors and Staff, we invite you to join us and the ALS community in challenging others to participate, advocate, and donate to fuel the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS.