Interviewing Innovators: Gym for the Brain! Neurotech with Wearable Sensing President Dr. Walid Soussou

“We all share global similarities in the brain while maintaining individual differences.” Dr. Walid Soussou

Dr. Walid Soussou

Innovator: Dr Walid Soussou, President, Wearable Sensing
Expertise: Neuroscience, neurogenesis, sensor technology and neurotechnology
Idea: Gym for the Brain

Meet Dr. Soussou:
PhD Neuroscience at USC
BS Biochemistry at Boston College

Dr. Walid Soussou has strong foundations as an academic researcher, which he brings to his work as a neuroscientist working on neurocognitive amelioration and developing biomedical devices for consumer applications. He is fluent in English, French, Arabic, and conversational German.

Walid’s specialties are:
• Cognitive state assessment based on multi-modal wearable sensors (EEG, EOG, ECG, EMG)
• In vivo and in vitro multielectrode extracellular electrophysiology.

Tell me about your innovation? What are you aiming to do that has not been done?

Our innovation is a wearable sensor that provide clear signals of brain activity (electroencephalography (EEG). Our technology was initially developed under military (Army, Navy, Air Force, & DARPA) funding to our sister company, QUASAR (Quantum Applied Science & Research), which developed these high-fidelity non-invasive sensors to measure brain activity and mental workload, stress, and fatigue of soldiers from their helmets.

Today, we are using this technology as a Gym for the Brain. Our wearable EEG sensors are being used by professional neurofeedback practitioners (of whom there are over 10,000 in the world) for either healing (treating brain disorder, ADHD, depression, anxiety) or super-wellness (coaches helping clients to improve memory, focus, or reduce stress).

That sounds so futuristic. What happens if a client works to reduce anxiety and does too much? Is it akin to working your biceps until they are outsized vs the rest of your body?
That is a risk, as with all technology or workouts, however, we work with licensed practitioners who have years of experience and use published neurofeedback protocols. Our solution makes it easier and more reliable from them to train your brain.

We believe a revolution in brain health is coming, like the cardiovascular exercise revolution. People started going to gyms to improve performance in targeted ways. Today people try meditation and learning new things to improve brain health, but how do they know if it’s working? Neurofeedback can tell when you’re really working the brain areas you want.

Photo Credit: WearableSensing.com

What has working on this invention decoded about humanity?

Humans share global similarities in the brain while maintaining individual differences.  Today we can tell the proficiency level of a student, whether they are confused, thinking hard, or spacing out just by them wearing a helmet.  Today we can heal the brain and work it out, like in a gym.  It is important as a company to provide tools that can help people improve areas of their brain and life while being aware of our extraordinary responsibility to ensure the ethical use of this technology.

As you have worked on this innovation/invention, what have you learned about science, what has building this invention decoded about science?

Individuality!  Historically, when studying the brain, scientists opine on averages, which allows them to understand general mechanisms.

When developing solutions for practical use, we need to account for individual differences.  We did a study with 18 people, and found 50% the subjects had similar brain patterns, 30% were different from the first group but similar to each other, and the rest (20%) had unique patterns with few similarities. 

Now, the NIH (National Institute of Health) and others are funding brain studies where there is a balance at looking at sub-groups and individuality, not just group averages.

What about your background/upbringing led you to do this?

My first languages were Arabic and French, then English.  When I moved to the USA, I was frustrated because my reading speed in English was slower than in my first two languages.  I wished I could just download knowledge into my brain.  This thought started my fascination with neuroscience and neurotech.

After graduate school in neuroscience, I wanted to develop solutions that could directly impact humans.  I wanted to build an alarm clock that could wake you from the right stage of sleep by monitoring your brain waves.  I reached out to QUASAR for collaboration, and they instead offered me a job!  Working at QUASAR was like landing in a playground with a whole bunch of tech and getting to imagine what could be done with it!

Company Background:

QUASAR, founded in 1998, develops contactless high sensitivity electromagnetic sensors for the military and medical fields.  These sensors measure electrical signals, and were initially used to pick up radio waves in the sky or underground, but one researcher discovered that these sensors could also pick up his heartbeat at a distance! DARPA was interested in using these sensors in a chair to act as a lie detector. Literally sitting on the hot seat!

While QUASAR continues to innovate on sensor technology, Wearable Sensing was spun out to commercialize its applications.

These sensors can measure electrical signals from the heart and brain.  Wearable Sensing is focused on the brain.  An EEG measures brain activity, and is normally done in a hospital, where preparation includes rubbing the scalp and placing gels between the skin and sensors in order to get a clear signal.  Wearable Sensing has a dry electrode that doesn’t require rubbing or gel, and thus can be used outside of hospital settings. 

What is your stretch goal?  Where could your invention take us 5 years forward?

Today we have what might be considered by many to be a stretch goal: a gym for the brain. 

In the future, as we improve the hardware, we see an ecosystem, an app store for the brain, where customers can download apps to target various brain activities, all “played” on our hardware.  These apps can help us improve sleep, manage brain states (mood, stress,…), treat or diagnose brain disorders (mTBI, autism,…), and even control computers or play games!

Where can readers find out more?
Video with Dr. Walid Soussou

Wearable Sensing
https://wearablesensing.com/
QUASAR: Quantum Applied Science and Research
http://www.quasarusa.com/

Important Disclosures Current relationship, holdings, no representations: I have no financial relationships with Wearable Sensing or QUASAR (Quantum Applied Science and Research) or their employees. I have no holdings in Wearable Sensing or QUASAR (Quantum Applied Science and Research).  This blog contains no investment advice, warranties of accuracy, no duty to update, and no offer of securities.  This blog contains many forward-looking statements.  

Published by Emmy Sobieski

I have 24 years experience analyzing new technologies, interviewing founders, and learning why they are the people driving innovation. This blog is my way of sharing insights of those on the cutting edge of technology.

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