A robot arm, a machine-learning algorithm and a brain-computer interface have been combined to create a means to help tetraplegic patients (those who can't move their upper or lower body) interact with their world. While this isn't the first time a brain interface has been used to control a robot, it has taken the technology a step further by estimating and understanding brain signals without input from the patient. This research was completed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institue of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). Professor Aude Billard, the head of EPFL's Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory and José del R. Millán, previously the head of EPFL's Brain-Machine interface Laboratory, worked together to create a computer program that can control a robot using electrical signals from a patient's brain. The patient's brain activity was monitored by an EEG cap – which effectively scans the electrical activity inside your head.
A man has been able to move all four of his paralysed limbs using a groundbreaking mind-controlled exoskeleton, scientists have said. The tetraplegic 30-year-old, known only as Thibault, said his first steps in the robotic suit felt like being "the first man on the Moon". The system, which works by recording and decoding brain signals, was trialled in a two-year study by French researchers at biomedical research centre Clinatec and the University of Grenoble. Scientists conceded the suit was an experimental treatment far from clinical application but said it had the potential to improve patients' quality of life and autonomy. Wearing the robotic limbs, Thibault was able to walk and move his arms using a ceiling-mounted harness for balance.
Scientists have developed a mind-controlled robotic hand that allows people with certain types of spinal injuries to perform everyday tasks such as using a fork or drinking from a cup. The low-cost device was tested in Spain on six people with quadriplegia affecting their ability to grasp or manipulate objects. By wearing a cap that measures electric brain activity and eye movement the users were able to send signals to a tablet computer that controlled the glove-like device attached to their hand. Participants in the small-scale study were able to perform daily activities better with the robotic hand than without, according to results published Tuesday in the journal Science Robotics. The principle of using brain-controlled robotic aids to assist people with quadriplegia isn't new.
If you've lost the use of your arms, the idea of being able to control a robotic replacement arm with your mind might seem like an awesome idea at first. That is, until you're told that you would probably need to have some serious surgery to crack open your skull and insert an implant into your brain to actually let you do that. Fortunately, scientists at the University of Minnesota have developed an alternative: a technique that would allow people to move a robotic appendage around with only their thoughts, without the need for surgery or brain implants. It's a major step in the development of non-invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which build a direct communication link between the brain and an external device. Though previous experiments showed that brain-computer interfaces could allow people to control virtual objects like moving a cursor on a screen or a helicopter in a flight simulator, and even real objects like small quadcopters, this study takes it to the next level with real-world implications.
Stanford University researchers are enrolling participants in a pioneering study investigating the feasibility of allowing people with paralysis to use a technology that interfaces directly with the brain to control computer cursors, robotic arms and other assistive devices. Those eligible to enroll in the trial include people with weakness of all four limbs resulting from cervical spinal cord injury, brainstem stroke, muscular dystrophy, or motor neuron disease, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). The pilot clinical trial, known as BrainGate2,* is based on technology developed at Brown University and is led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brown and the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The researchers have now invited the Stanford team to establish the only trial site outside of New England. Under development since 2002, BrainGate is a combination of hardware and software that directly senses electrical signals in the brain that control movement.