Tan Le’s passion was technology and that is exactly what was at the forefront at the time that she began her pursuit towards a higher education. This was when not just technology but personal technology was breaking through on the scene. Tan Le capitalized on that by co-founding a company called SASme which was based in telecommunications and the ability to communicate person to person. Tan Le worked hard to eventually grow this business to have multiple locations worldwide at the same time as she was working with one of the leading law firms in Australia. Not only did she work hard to establish herself in business she also worked hard to establish herself as a woman with a cause. She was a Goodwill ambassador for Australia in Asia, an ambassador for the status of woman, a human rights educator, as well as being appointed to several different boards.
All of this hard work and dedication eventually lead to Tan Le forming a group of individuals that she knew would not accept the idea that something is impossible instead using that as a challenge to succeed. Which lead her to EMOTIV which is a company that uses “electroencephalography (EEG) to track mental performance, monitor emotions, and control virtual and physical objects with thoughts.” (visualcv 2015) Her and her team utilized technology that is used to read brainwaves to help understand what connects the brain to the human bodies functions. In an example that she gives in one of her Ted Talks she asks a man to imagine a cube being pulled towards him and when he does that and is wearing the device you can see that effect that it has on the computer screen. Now this is not a totally new technology, however it is new way to use the technology and a breakthrough in how to provide the technology to everyone. Originally this technology was only available to a select few as it cost tens of thousands of dollars. Well Tan Le and her team were able to create a way to harness this technology so that instead of costing that much it would run a few hundred dollars and be available to those that need it for a price that is attainable.
If you can imagine in the beginning the equipment used would have to be stuck to your head using a conductive substance so that the computer would then read what you were thinking and you were hooked up to machines via several cords and wires. Well Tan Le and her team were able to create a way that you could use the same technology without and sticky conductive goo and no wires. This set the way for technological breakthroughs in the field that would benefit so many. Not only did it allow the average person access to such amazing technology it was working to change others’ lives for the better. No it can be programed into a computer that an individual can steer their wheelchair with a facial expression. Imagine what kind of freedom that could bring to a quadriplegic that is nonverbal. Now he or she would be able to steer their wheelchair with the blinking of their eye or by the smile on their face. Opening up a whole new world to them and those around them, allowing them to be members of society where before they were unable to get around independently.
The idea behind EEG is to utilize the energy that is put out by the brain in and outward way. Here is an info graphic of how and EEG is measured and brain activity is tracked.
In the beginning EEG looked like this.
Big bulky and out of reach for those that could benefit from it in a life changing way.
After Tan Le and her team were able to rework how EEG is utilized, this is the result,
Wireless ability to access functions of the brain that can help individuals function at a higher capacity than they had been able to previously. Not only that but it is programmable to be able to fit anyone’s preference. For example if you have lost the ability to walk you can program your wheelchair with this and a computer to have the electronic wheelchair to turn left when you blink your left eye and the same for the right. This technology had been around for quite a long time and its potential had barely been tapped and with brilliant minds like Tan Le’s working on ideas like this there is no holding back what can be done to further people lives through the brilliance and ideas of others.
Tan Le is true female entrepreneur and success story. In the face of adversity not only did she pull through but she moved on to shine bright and light the way for others that were looking to follow her path. She is a true inspiration and is using her story to catapult young woman into the technology field. There is no stopping her now and who would want to. It is my hope that there will be more and more Tan Le’s out there until the idea of women in technology is no longer one that is foreign and all women have the opportunity to excel in this field.