At age 4, Tan Le and her family left Vietnam as refugees, venturing out to sea without a clear plan. Her upbringing ultimately inspired her to think big, and now she is making a major difference in the world.
"Anything, even death, would be better than life in that environment," the CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences describes of the once war-torn country. Upon immigrating to Australia, Le's parents impressed upon her and her siblings to "work hard, study hard, get good marks at school and then do something worthwhile with our lives."
Initially, Le began with the simple desire to be able to move something with her mind. That idea led to the creation of the Emotiv EPOC, a headset that "picks up electrical fluctuations that result from neurons firing inside your brain." With a set of 14 sensors, the device can detect the user’s thoughts, feelings and expressions in real time.
The headset has taken human-machine interaction to a new level, changing the landscape of learning and market research. The technology is also making huge medical strides. In the case of Cora, a young woman who was involved in a debilitating car accident, the headset is allowing her to communicate again.
"One of the most humbling aspects is when you see someone adopt your technology in a way that transforms their lives," Le says. "What we've been able to do is really fascinating, it's very exciting, but it's only just scratching the surface of what is possible."