Control Over Motorized Wheelchairs
by Robert Preidt, HealthDay News & New Scientist, July
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A neural system
that "reads" minds may some day let severely disabled people use
their thoughts to steer a motorized wheelchair.
Unlike previous devices of this sort, this system does not
require surgical implants. It utilizes a skullcap fitted with
electrodes that monitor the electrical activity of a person's
brain, says a recent story in New Scientist.
Researchers have tested the device by having wearers try to
control a steerable robot. It took two days training for the
users to learn how to use their minds to control the robot.
The system was created by Swiss and Spanish scientists. If its
development is successful, it would be the first mind-controlled
system able to operate something as complicated as a motorized
In the robot tests, the electrodes in the skullcap collected
information about the brain's electrical activity and fed that
information into a computer. Software analyzed the person's
brain activity and, using a wireless link, passed on commands to
Currently, users fitted with the skullcap can select three
different commands for the robot -- turn left, turn right and
move forward. The software can interpret the specific command by
identifying telltale brain activity associated with that
The scientists are working to expand the ability of the system
to identify more command information from the brain.
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