"Basically we would like to create devices which would allow people to feel embodied, in the body of a humanoid robot. To do so we are trying to develop techniques from Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) so that we can read the peoples thoughts and then try to see how far we can go from interpreting brain waves signals, to transform them into actions to be done by the robot."

Cue the creepy music.  What you’ve just read isn’t a quote from a science fiction book.  Those are the words of Abderrahmane Kheddar, a researcher at the CRNS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory.  

French and Japanese researchers at the CRNS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory are working on a project to make robots move with mind control. 

Key to the technology is the ability to interpret brainwaves and then transform them into actions. To do that scientists use an electroencephalograph (EEG) cap which registers the electrical output of the brain.  But brain waves can’t directly control the actions of an external machine. To translate brain waves into signals that can be understood by a robot, the brain waves must be passed through a signal processing unit. Once the signal is processed it can be sent to the robot where it acts out the users “thoughts”.   

As a person practices using the systems he or she can gain greater control over the robot.  Whether this is due to developing better concentration or because the user has provided a larger sample of brainwave signals, it’s hard to say.  But in the end, the users can control the robot well enough that it can move from point A to point B where it will execute its preprogrammed task.

It’s fairly obvious how beneficial this technology might be in the real world. About 120,000, Americans alone, are quadriplegic. Unshackling the paralyzed, or those suffering with debilitating diseases, from constant care would mean a tremendous improvement in the quality of life.

While this technology is still in infancy there are other technologies that are currently closer to market that will bridge the gap between today and tomorrow. 


Images and Video Courtesy of Diginfo.tv 

 

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