University of Minnesota scientists have developed a new interface which allows humans to control airborne robots with electricity generated by thoughts.
Research published in the Journal of Neural Engineering explains that the invention uses an electroencephalography (EEG) cap to measure the electrical signals sent out by the brain. The software is able to recognize when the brain is thinking of something, like a clenched fist, as it knows what the brain signals look like.
Professor Bin He, the team's lead scientist, was able to develop it after he successfully translated brain signals from an EEG helmet to control a computer-rendered helicopter in simulation.
Scientists conducted tests on five subjects with EEG caps containing 64 electrode which allow the custom software to "learn" the user's brain signals when they think about clenching their fists. They used that thought to trigger the flying drone.
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As the subjects practiced, they were eventually able to use only their thoughts to navigate the drone through an obstacle course.
There are already products available that are similar to the robot, able to help disabled people with computer interactions.
Scientists believe the development of this type of technology will soon enable people to move wheelchairs or other mobility assistants, turn off and on electronic devices, and communicate online just by thinking.