Researchers are making major progress on technology that could help the severely disabled. Professor Javier Minguez at Spain's University of Zaragoza is developing a wheelchair that can be controlled by thought. The wheelchair is designed to transport people with severe neuromuscular diseases or extreme mobility challenges.
The team developing the wheelchair is composed of medical engineers, senior processors, machine learning specialists, and robotics experts. Lasers mounted on the front of the chair constantly scan the surrounding area and project a real-time virtual reconstruction of the area on a computer screen in front of the user. The user's brain is connected to a computer using a skull cap full of electrodes. When the user directs his or her attention to a specific area on the screen, the computer receives those brain signals, recognizes and translates the coordinates that are being focused on, sends that information to the navigation system, and the wheelchair responds to the user's gaze.
"We're trying to create a more natural way for the human to communicate with the machine," says Minguez, who wants to eliminate the electrodes and create a more comfortable mind-computer connection. The wheelchair has demonstrated very positive performance, with recent test drivers scoring better than a 94% accuracy rate and having no collisions.
From Los Angeles Times
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