Breaking the lock: Peter Ford | this curious life |

A former TV anchorman, Australian Peter Ford, has devised a way to help those with acute brain disorders communicate more readily.


'Peter Ford has always relished a new frontier. In the early 1980s, the Queenslander was one of the first Australian news anchors hired for Ted Turner’s 24-hour US news network, CNN.

Another new frontier at the time was computer technology, taking hold in offices everywhere, and he quickly engaged with that, too. Amid the daily mayhem of breaking news ("We virtually lived in the studio – sent home for a bath only when we began to smell!"), Ford one day mentioned to the head of IT that he was sick of walking past the new office computer and not knowing how to use it. The IT chief sold Ford, for $10, the Apple programmers’ guide.

That transaction began a profound learning experience for Ford, who became a self-taught code writer. His creativity has, over the past 30 years, led him to invent a new technology that is transforming the lives of those who suffer from motor neurone disease (MND), stroke and cerebral palsy. Called NeuroSwitch, it’s a device that allows those who literally can’t lift a finger to communicate with family and friends, to write poetry and even books, edit videos and engage in otherday-to-day activities – to feel that bit more connected.'