Look Ma! No Hands! No Joystick! No Implant! Just My Thinking
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 10, 2004
NEW YORK, NEW YORK--Scientists are one step closer to devising a way for people to control objects using brainwaves -- without the need for intrusive electronic implants or surgery.
Researchers at the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York have designed a system that monitors electrical impulses from the brain. It uses a super-sensitive cap with 64 electrodes, much like those used in a typical electroencephalogram (EEG), which is placed around the person's head.
The cap sends information about the brain impulses to a computer which translates them into direct action, such as moving a curser on a computer screen or, perhaps, directing a prosthetic or robotic hand, or guiding a motorized wheelchair.
More work must be done to make the software more powerful and reliable: So far, it has only been tested successfully on four people, two of whom have spinal cord injuries.
Developers said that once it is perfected the new technology may allow people who cannot move to live more independently.
Scientists at Cyberkinetics, Inc., have been working to perfect a system intended to achieve the same results. However, their system uses a device the size of an M&M candy that is surgically implanted into the brain.
Many hope the new technology will replace the need for implants.
"It is an impressive achievement," said John Donoghue, a senior neuroscientist at Brown University who was not involved in the New York project. "Such a device has great potential to improve the lives of paralyzed individuals."
"'Brainwave' cap controls computer" (BBC News)
"Paralyzed patients use brain waves to move" (USA Today via Arizona Republic)