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August 28, 2009

BehindTheMedspeak: BrainScope Handheld EEG Machine


Long story short: The Washington, D.C. company has developed a handheld EEG machine that's going to be priced in the "low thousands" of dollars, as opposed to the "... EEG machines used in hospitals [that] cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require a high amount of training to use properly," wrote Mike Musgrove in an article in today's Washington Post, which follows.


D.C. Company Aims to Make Brain Scans Portable

On a recent morning at the company's headquarters in downtown Washington, BrainScope chief executive Michael Singer was careful to not oversell the latest piece of news from his still-young company.

Earlier this month, the company received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market a portable electroencephalogram device that BrainScope hopes will, eventually, make its fortune.

But that doesn't mean BrainScope is ready to start trying to woo potential customers such as the U.S. military, he said. "This puts us on the path of where we want to go," he said. "We're not there yet."

BrainScope is a privately held firm owned by Revolution LLC, a holding company started by AOL founder Steve Case. For Case, the interest in brain research is a personal one; his brother died from brain cancer in 2002. BrainScope, one of several Revolution-owned companies, employs fewer than 20 people and has invested $20 million in its mission to build the device.

One day, the company hopes, military medics in the field will be able to use BrainScope's flagship product to view a patient's electrical brain patterns as a way of determining the severity of a traumatic injury. Broader uses for the device could be down the road.

Today, EEG machines used in hospitals cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require a high amount of training to use properly. BrainScope's goal is to offer a battery-operated product that is sophisticated but intuitive to use, so that a medic or even an untrained high school sports coach could employ the device without much instruction. It would be priced in the "low thousands" of dollars.

To take an example from recent headlines, actress Natasha Richardson died earlier this year after suffering a fall, involving a blow to the head, that did not appear to be life-threatening. If an emergency technician on the scene had employed a device such as the one BrainScope is developing, the company says, technician could have detected how severe her injury really was -- and possibly taken steps to save her life.

Dan Cohen, a physician by training who works at the Falls Church health-care consultancy Martin, Blanck & Associates, said that while the early results seem encouraging, it's too early to jump ahead with conclusions about BrainScope's future. His firm advises health-care companies on products and services that might be of interest to the federal sector, but does not have a professional relationship with BrainScope.

"They seem to be marching in the right direction," he said. "But you don't write the final chapter until you have all the data." Still, Cohen said he finds BrainScope's work so far to be "clever" and "promising."

While the FDA has signed off on the device's hardware for use as a portable reader of the brain's electrical patterns, BrainScope is still gathering data from head trauma cases around the country with the aim of further building the software that BrainScope hopes will differentiate its product.

Today, military medics in the field use rough and old-fashioned techniques such as getting patients to count backwards after they've gotten shaken up by a nearby blast. As a result, some say, the number of serious head injuries has gone vastly under-reported.

At least one high-ranking military doctor believes this to be the case. In May, BrainScope appointed James Peake, a former secretary of Veterans Affairs and a former Army surgeon general, to chair BrainScope's medical advisory board. "I see this as an acute issue for the military," he said. "Soldiers sometimes underplay it when they're hurting, so you want something that will be systematic when you're assessing them."

BrainScope's next product, which will also require regulatory clearance, is a disposable headset that will be made for use with the EEG reader device. If that headset clears those hurdles, the company intends to use a "razor and razor blade" business model for the two products, in which the company's future revenue would come more from the disposable headsets than from the device itself.

There are other potential uses for the device, if BrainScope is successful in meeting its first goals. Today, the firm is focused on gathering data about head injuries. Eventually, the company could, conceivably, move on to other maladies that could be diagnosed with the measurement of brain waves.

Eventually, the BrainScope product could be used to diagnose dementia and Alzheimer's, and more, for example. "Stroke is the holy grail," Singer said.

The company's focus right now is on gathering more data to identify the exact characteristics of brainwaves in patients who have suffered from a traumatic injury. There are 50 units of the device in use around the country, at medical facilities such as one at the University of Virginia.

"What we're all about right now is clinical validation," Singer said.

August 28, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

August 28, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Limited-Edition Lightsaber Chopsticks


AKA "Chop Sabers."


From a website: "'Star Wars' lightsabers merge with Japanese culture and 'Chop Sabers' emerge! Suitable for eating sushi or defending the galaxy, the Luke Skywalker [above] and Darth Vader [below]


Chop Sabers measure 9" long, with the blades cast in translucent material. The smaller “children’s size” Yoda Chop Sabers [below]


measure approximately 7" long. As a special bonus each set includes translucent 'Star Wars' logo chopstick rests."

Limited edition.


Per set, $10.49.

[via geektyrant and Milena]

August 28, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Meet Ana Ivanovic


This afternoon (Friday, August 28), 3 p.m. at Paragon Sports (18th & Broadway) in New York City.

It's on.

You wouldn't have done anything anyway except watch the clock so don't pretend.

Yes, you — I'm talking to you.

Who else would I be talking to?

You're the only one here.

Ms. Ivanovic is in town for next week's U.S. Open, where she hopes to begin her road back to the commanding heights from where, last year, she ruled the world as #1 after her French Open triumph.

She'll be appearing on behalf of Yonex, her racket sponsor, so don't be surprised if she won't give you an autograph unless you buy a racket.

Fair warning.

August 28, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reincarnation — Rambert Dance Company/Memo Akten

[via Memo Akten and longtime bookofjoe reader Linda Lou Turner, who was here before the beginning]

Oh, you think that makes no sense?

Think again.

August 28, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

1984 Fish Bowl


Designed by Sydney-based Danny Cheung.

From a website:


1984 Fish Bowl

Life inside a goldfish bowl ain't a lot of fun without a little privacy! The intention with 1984 was to create a true sense of abode for our beloved little friends; solid white walls and three generous (domed) portholes with views from the hallway to the living room.

The fishbowl was inspired by and takes its name from the novel "1984" by George Orwell.The design is innovative in meeting the needs of a non-human species, a design which ironically engages our own instinctive curiosity. The domed portholes effectively create an ethereal magnifying lens for compelling entertainment. The fish use the opaque walls for refuge and peer out the windows when curiosity strikes.

30cm W x 24cm H x 30cm D.


$430 AUD.

[via Milena]

August 28, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Birdbath management


Nothing too big, nothing too small, that's our philosophy here.

For the two or three of you out there who have birdbaths, here's what you should know, courtesy of yesterday's Washington Post Home section "Tip of the Week": "Water in birdbaths should be changed at least twice a week to prevent mosquitos from breeding there. Patrol the yard for standing water that will promote mosquito infestations. Children's toys, wading pools, buckets, wheelbarrows, tires and undrained pots all offer a place for larvae to develop."

OK then, I'm outa here on yard patrol.

There goes the day.

August 28, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

World's Best Tote Bag — Episode 2: Four years later, it still bestrides the travel world like a colossus


First noted here in September 2005, when it cost all of $24.95 on the manufacturer's website, it's still available, unlike so many other great things that disappear for one reason or another.

Comes in Sweet Pea Green, Hunter Green, Navy Blue, Gray, Black, Coffee Brown or Yellow.

Features and Details:

• Main compartment has zipper closure with large internal  zipper pocket

• Large front pocket with organizer panel and lockable zippers

• Durable 900-D polyester and ripstop polyester combination

• Easy–access end pockets for water bottle and umbrella

• Pocket on back slips over rolling luggage handle

• Heavy–duty nickel plated zippers

• Twelve pockets total

• Lightweight: 1.6 lbs.

• Padded bottom

• 15" x 12" x 5.5"

• 1,000 cu. in.

Mine is at least 10 years old and still looks fine, with all zippers smooth and easy and no loose seams or threads.

Now $29.95 from the manufacturer, though you'll see it for twice that and more in various upscale catalogs.


We know better.

August 28, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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