Non-Intrusive Brain Interfaces: Reality Catches Up with Sci Fi
Researchers from UC Berkeley used MRI to analyze a the brain activity and produce a movie showing what a person is watching. The details and colors of the result movie are far from precise. This is however a promising result that enriches the palette of brain interfaces.
Another brain interface was demoed in 2010 at TED as shown in the video below. The experimenter sent commands to a computer by only thinking to some action. The secret lays in the EPOC headset from a company named Emotiv. With its 14 sensors, it measures the EEG in different areas of the brain and sends values to a computer. The computer recognizes EEG patterns recorded by the experimenter during setup and triggers user defined actions.
The EPOC headset sounds like a cheap ($300 approx.) lightweight commercial alternative to the prototype announced by Honda in 2008. Honda’s solution presented in the following video is a big helmet with plenty of sensors. The user could control the Asimo humanoid robot and make it perform some movement by only thinking to the action to perform.
All this sounds like science fiction. Still it can have really useful applications especially for disabled people. An extreme case is that of people suffering from the locked-in syndrome. An application example can be driving a car. Researchers from the Free University of Berlin did explore this idea. They recorded the video below where a person wearing the EPOC headset did drive a car without touching neither the wheel nor the paddles!