The recently concluded European Union-funded Tools for Brain-Computer Interaction (TOBI) project could help the severely disabled regain some of their lost functionality.
For example, one participant, who suffered a stroke that left him completely paralyzed and unable to speak, controlled a computer with his thoughts and communicated by typing email messages.
For three experiments, subjects--patients with severe physical disabilities--were instructed to control objects by thinking about the desired effect, as electrical signals were transmitted from their brains through electrodes attached to a cap into a computer. In the first experiment, participants gained the ability to take full advantage of the Internet and computer technology. In the second experiment, participants took small remote-controlled telepresence robots on virtual walks or sent them to meet with other people. For the third experiment, participants used their own thoughts to control electrodes attached to their limbs and generate movement.
The TOBI experiments did not entail invasive surgical procedures such as brain implants on the tested subjects.
The researchers say the study participants became an essential element of the research team. "We listened to the feedback of all the patients to correct design mistakes and made any changes right away," says project coordinator Jose del R. Millan.
From Engineering and Technology Magazine
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