Controlling an exoskeleton directly from the brain

A volunteer calibrating the exoskeleton brain-computer interface. Credit: Korea University/TU Berlin

Joint teams of researchers working at TU Berlin and Korea University have demonstrated (see clip) an exoskeleton controlled by a brain through a brain computer interface.

The exoskeleton can assist a person with lower limbs paralyses in moving around. The person wears an electroencephalogram cap that picks up electrical signals from the brain and in particular those related to the vision of LED dots that are placed in front of the person (part of the exoskeleton). When the person looks at the left LED his brain produces a signal that is interpreted by the computer controlling the exoskeleton as a "go left" command. Similarly when the person looks at the LED on the right. 

Hence, the system does not decode the "willingness" to go left of right (backwards or forward) but just the LED the person is looking at and convert this into a left, right, back, forward command.

It is just another way to input a command to a computer, it is not a step forward in decoding brain's thoughts... We are still very far from that.

Still, for some persons with disabilities it can help.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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