Woman controls robot arm with only her thoughts


first_imgRobots are pretty cool, and for all our subconscious fears that they will one day rise up against us, the robots are pretty firmly under our control. In fact, the technology is emerging to allow robots to be controlled directly with the human brain. In this video from the scientific journal Nature, a paralyzed woman uses a brain-machine interface to control a robot arm, and it’s really fantastic.Scientists have been working on bridging the gap between flesh and machine for years, but this is the first time a human has been able to use a robot arm to manipulate a 3-dimensional object by thought alone. Past experiments went so far as controlling a computer cursor. The key is the BrainGate interface, which consists of a small electrode connected to a bundle of gold wires. The electrode is implanted in the patient’s brain (in the motor cortex to be exact). The signal is then transmitted up the wires, and read by a computer.The patient will have to train the software to understand what each pattern of thought means. To make the robotic arm open its hand, the computer has to learn to identify what that brain wave pattern looks like in an individual’s brain. This is a potential boon for paralysis patients because the damage that causes paralysis is usually in the spinal cord. Getting the data directly from the brain bypasses any nerve damage further out in the nervous system.What you see in this video is just the beginning. Researchers hope to make the BrainGate chip implant smaller and develop wireless connections rather than have wires snaking out of people’s skulls. Even at this early stage, it’s pretty wonderful to watch.via ExtremeTechlast_img

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