CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - Researchers at MIT have developed a wearable sensor to help those living with ALS communicate.

The software detects small movements in a patient’s face like twitches and smiles. It’s also smaller than typical communication devices on the market.

People living with the disease suffer from a gradual decline in their ability to control their muscles which often limits their communication skills.

The wearable technology, known as Comfortable Decoders, recognizes tiny facial movements that can help patients communicate simple statements, like “I’m hungry” or “I love you.”

The MIT team said it was motivated to design technology that could fulfill the basic need of dialogue and communication.

“Humans are very social creatures and we need to be able to communicate with those around us. With ALS you eventually lose that ability without the help of technology,” researcher Rachel McIntosh said.

Comfortable Decoders was designed with stretchable, skin-like material that attaches to a person’s face to detect the motion.

“We decided to create a conformable device that would overcome the bulkiness and the lack of the intimate contact with the skin,” researcher Farita Tasnim said. “And that’s what Conformable Decoders is trying to do, is create devices which people can use in daily life.”

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