Researchers led by Matteo Matteucci at Milan’s Polytechnical Institute say they’ve developed a wheelchair that obeys mental signals sent to a computer. (Via PhysOrg.)
The user is connected to a computer with electrodes on his or her scalp, and sends a signal by concentrating for a few seconds on the name of the desired destination — kitchen, bedroom, bathroom — displayed on a screen.
The computer then guides the wheelchair to the selected room using a preset programme.
“We don’t read minds, but the brain signal that is sent,” Matteucci said.
The chair is equipped with two laser beams that can detect obstacles.
The researchers think the wheelchair could be available commercially within five to 10 years, and claim it would only cost 10 percent more than a standard motorized wheelchair. They’re also working on getting the chair to operate outside using GPS.
They also note that other researchers around the world are working on similar projects, and suggests that a research consortium should be set up to coordinate the work and find the best approach for these kinds of brain-computer interfaces.
(What I really wanted for the image to illustrate this was Rodin’s sculpture, above, sitting in a wheelchair, but alas, it was beyond my Photoshopping skills.)
(Image: Wikimedia Commons.)