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Create a wireless device that transforms thoughts into actions

07/22/2021 at 5:30 PM CEST

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the United States, and other international academic centers, have developed a device that allows you to manage accessories and prosthetics only with your thoughts. In this way, the user can imagine an action and wirelessly control a wheelchair or a robotic arm, for example.

The equipment integrates imperceptible microneedle electrodes with wireless circuits, guaranteeing non-invasive activity and much less uncomfortable for the user than other similar systems, which require cables or helmets. The new device could be very useful for improve the quality of life of disabled people.

To achieve the desired results, the specialists combined wireless electronics applied to the scalp with virtual reality, designing a brain-computer interface that can read the user’s thoughts and transform them into specific physical actions.

Thoughts and actions

The innovation has become a reality from the deepening of the concept of the brain-computer interface, but linked to electroencephalography (EEG) and other similar techniques. The purpose is to detect the intention of movement of each user by analyzing the brain signals produced in the cortical areas, for example through the electroencephalography.

The cortical activity It is essential to carry out any action: when thinking of doing something, the sensory and motor areas of the cerebral cortex are activated immediately. It has even been proven that before making the decision to carry out an action, it is already possible to register activity in the cerebral cortex.

So far, systems designed to “translate” these signals and convert them into actions have faced a number of problems. For example, gels should be used to preserve contact with the skin, a condition that hinders the task and takes away comfort.

At the same time, “noise” is recorded in the signals captured, produced by the wear of materials or by actions as common as blinking. Such interference undermines the accuracy of the brain data to be analyzed and ultimately leads to device errors.

Related topic: Sensitive robots as health aids.

An advance that improves the quality of life

According to the conclusions of the study that serves as the basis for this innovation, published in the journal Advanced Science, the new technology manages to overcome several of these difficulties thanks to the wireless approach that has been chosen. According to a press release, the removal of cables and other physical accessories increases effectiveness in the “translation” of brain signals and increases comfort during the use of the equipment.

In addition, the device uses a machine learning algorithm and a virtual reality system to further enhance the decoding of brain signals that allows thoughts to be converted into actions. So far, the new system has been successfully tested on different volunteers without disabilities: now, scientists will seek to adapt it to the reality of disabled people.

The experts also highlighted the importance of the introduction of the virtual reality– Users achieved precise control of virtual exercises using only their thoughts or motor images. At the same time, visual cues improve the process of gathering information.

In the near future, the researchers believe that by optimizing electrode placement and improving stimulus-based EEG integration, the new system will be poised to become an unbeatable ally for women. people with different disabilities, which can thus significantly improve their quality of life.

Reference

Wireless Soft Scalp Electronics and Virtual Reality System for Motor Imagery-Based Brain – Machine Interfaces. Musa Mahmood, Shinjae Kwon, Hojoong Kim, Yun-Soung Kim, Panote Syriaraya, Jeongmoon Choi, Boris Otkhmezuri, Kyowon Kang, Ki Jun Yu, Young C. Jang, Chee Siang Ang and Woon-Hong Yeo. Advanced Science (2021) .DOI: https: //doi.org/10.1002/advs.202101129

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