Launch­pad so­cial en­ter­prise

Over the past few months we’ve given you a taste of the 11 so­cial en­ter­prise teams Ak­ina Foun­da­tion has se­lected to help in­cu­bate though its lat­est pro­gramme – Launch­pad. Now it’s time to talk to the teams.

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Now it’s time for us to dig a lit­tle deeper into each of the teams so you can get a flavour of what they are all about. Each month we’ll be pro­fil­ing the change agents be­hind the scenes, what they’re do­ing, why they’re do­ing it, and the broader vi­sions they have for their or­gan­i­sa­tions in the com­ing years as they be­gin to af­fect so­cial change.

In this is­sue we chat with Thought Wired’s Sarv­naz Ta­he­rian, and Ora’s Jack­son Wood to get the skinny on their re­spec­tive so­cially cog­ni­tive en­ter­prises.

Rosie Bos­worth: Keep­ing thing short and sharp, let’s start by de­scrib­ing in two sen­tences or less what ThoughtWired is and does? Go!

Sarv­naz Ta­he­rian:

Thought-Wired is a con­sumer brain­sens­ing tech­nol­ogy company that strives to pos­i­tively change the lives of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties with the help of brain-sen­sors. We are de­vel­op­ing an as­sis­tive so­lu­tion that only re­quires the power of thought (elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity of the brain from the sur­face of the scalp) to con­trol elec­tronic de­vices.

We are a team of three. Dmitry Selit­skiy, the CEO and founder. In­ter­ested in ev­ery­thing tech, he has 6+ years ex­pe­ri­ence in the IT in­dus­try in­clud­ing sys­tems anal­y­sis, ar­chi­tec­ture and im­ple­men­ta­tion, and project man­age­ment.

James Pau is our prod­uct de­vel­op­ment lead. He’s re­cently fin­ished a role as Re­search Fel­low in the Mecha­tron­ics En­gi­neer­ing depart­ment at The Univer­sity of Auck­land. He has a PhD in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing and his re­search in­ter­ests are fo­cused to­wards hu­man and ro­bot/ ma­chine in­ter­ac­tion and biosig­nal pro­cess­ing.

I’m our re­search/us­abil­ity lead. I’m a doc­toral can­di­date and grad­u­ate teach­ing as­sis­tant in psy­chol­ogy at The Univer­sity of Auck­land and my re­search fo­cuses on sys­tems train­ing and us­abil­ity. I’m also a re­searcher for the New Zealand Cere­bral Palsy So­ci­ety and the Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Ag­ing.

RB: Tell us about the “aha” mo­ment that brought Thought-Wired to Life: What set the ball rolling and in­spired you to start up?

ST:

Dmitry came up with the idea to start with after watch­ing a TED talk on­line that show­cased the brain­sens­ing tech­nol­ogy we’re now us­ing. Dmitry im­me­di­ately saw the op­por­tu­nity for this tech­nol­ogy to help his cousin, who has se­vere phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and is com­pletely locked inside his body – un­able to speak or in­ter­act with his fam­ily and en­vi­ron­ment. Dmitry thought that with brain-sens­ing tech­nol­ogy, it would en­able his cousin to tran­scend the phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions of his body and com­mu­ni­cate with his loved ones.

RB: What gap does Thought-Wired fill? ST:

Dmitry (CEO) founded Thought-Wired with the vi­sion of mak­ing the world ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple with com­plex and se­vere phys­i­cal im­pair­ments. While some mod­els such as eye-gaz­ing and mus­cle read­ing de­vices have been in the mar­ket for years they all re­quire some form of phys­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity. Us­ing Thought-Wired, any­one, re­gard­less of their phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, can com­mu­ni­cate and gain some form of in­de­pen­dence.

RB: In a per­fect world de­scribe what so­ci­ety will look like 10 years from now be­cause of Thought-Wired’s in­volve­ment?

ST:

We are hop­ing to have a multi-level im­pact upon so­ci­ety – where peo­ple with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties will be in­cluded within so­ci­ety, have more au­ton­omy, qual­ity of life and free­dom of ex­pres­sion. Their fam­i­lies will be able to re­turn to work, have more qual­ity of life and less emo­tional and fi­nan­cial stress. Eco­nom­i­cally, we will be bet­ter off, as more in­de­pen­dence means less fi­nan­cial/care needs on the gov­ern­ment.

RB: Do you see TW evolv­ing into some­thing big­ger? Ex­tend­ing into ad­di­tional ar­eas/ ver­ti­cals etc?

ST:

In ad­di­tional to our cur­rent fo­cus we are ex­plor­ing the use of this tech­nol­ogy to teach the gen­eral pub­lic about their brain and be­hav­iour, and ac­cess ways to im­prove their

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