Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves

Tan Le mail


Tan Le is Founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company advancing our understanding of the human brain and identifying biomarkers for mental and other neurological conditions using electroencephalography (EEG). She is a technology entrepreneur, business executive and sought-after speaker.

Emotiv Lifesciences is pursuing the dream of widespread brain function screening to catch early signs of autism, epilepsy, learning disabilities, ADHD and other conditions. Today, many kinds of medical tests are performed on infants and young children looking for early signs of disease or developmental problems that can be cured more easily when caught early but there are no tests for brain development. Ms Le’s vision is the potential to implement inexpensive cognitive and neurological monitoring for developmental disorders. 

In 2003 Tan co-founded Emotiv, a neuroengineering company that has developed a breakthrough interface technology for digital media taking inputs directly from the brain. This technology utterly transforms the way we interact with computers. Applications for the Emotiv technology, and interface, span an amazing variety of industries – from gaming to interactive television, everyday computer interactions, hands-free control systems, smart adaptive environments, art, accessibility design, market research, psychology, medicine, robotics, automotive, transport safety, defense and security. Emotiv has a footprint in over 90 countries and is a recognised world leader and pioneer in this field of brain computer interface. 

Before she co-founded Emotiv, Ms Le co-founded and ran SASme International, a pioneer in providing Short Message Peer-to-Peer (SMPP) platforms to telecommunication carriers and content aggregators, with branches in Asia and Europe. Ms Le was part of negotiating a successful merger for SASme in 2003.

Tan has been a Special Visitor to the UK as a guest of the British High Commission and Foreign Commonwealth Office, a Goodwill Ambassador for Australia in Asia, an Ambassador for Aboriginal reconciliation and a Patron of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program. She has also been an Ambassador for the Status of Women since 2001 and has served the Boards of Plan International Australia, the Australian Citizenship Council, the National Committee for Human Rights Education and the Centre for the Mind.

Awarded Young Australian of the Year in 1998 and voted as one of Australia’s 30 Most Successful Women Under 30. Tan’s story was featured in the Eternity Exhibition of the National Museum of Australia. In 2011, Tan was recognised with the AutoVision Innovations Award and honoured as a Monash University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. She has been featured in the Who’s Who in Australia list since 1999, Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010 and Forbes’ 50 Names You Need to Know in 2011. She has been honoured by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader since 2009.



Tan Le is the founder & CEO of Emotiv, a bioinformatics company that’s working on identifying biomarkers for mental and other neurological conditions using electroencephalography (EEG).

Why you should listen

Tan Le is the co-founder and president of Emotiv. Before this, she headed a firm that worked on a new form of remote control that uses brainwaves to control digital devices and digital media. It’s long been a dream to bypass the mechanical (mouse, keyboard, clicker) and have our digital devices respond directly to what we think. Emotiv’s EPOC headset uses 16 sensors to listen to activity across the entire brain. Software “learns” what each user’s brain activity looks like when one, for instance, imagines a left turn or a jump.

Le herself has an extraordinary story — a refugee from Vietnam at age 4, she entered college at 16 and has since become a vital young leader in her home country of Australia.

What others say

“We’re looking at the tip of the iceberg. We’re looking at the computer of the ’70s. Everybody knows this is going to be awesome in the future and do a lot of things.” — Nam Do, cofounder of Emotiv



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