menu

Paralyzed Patient Moves Robot With Their Mind

Paralyzed Patient Moves Robot With Their Mind
technology

Scientists in Switzerland have demonstrated a robot that can be controlled by a quadriplegic wearing an EEG cap fitted with electrodes.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 12 may 2012

Connecting human thought to a machine is a pursuit that once only existed in science fiction, but now Swiss scientists have made the impossible a reality. Researchers at Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have demonstrated that a partially paralyzed person could control a robot by thought alone, giving hope that someday immobilized people will be able to interact with even remote environments through pseudo-avatars.

To begin, the team used a head cap to record the brain signals of Mark-Andre Duc, a partial quadriplegic who was located at a hospital over 50 miles away. This system is unique because it doesn’t require any invasive neural implants, simply an EEG cap fitted with electrodes. The electrical signals captured were analyzed and transmitted to a foot-tall robot located in the Lausanne research lab that was then able to replicate the patient’s intentions. For example, when the patient was asked to imagine walking forward, a computer in the hospital decoded the electrical signals by laptop and then transmitted the corresponding command to the robot which moved accordingly. By building a robot complete with camera, screen, and microphone, the hope is that immobilized users will be able to extend their virtual presence to any location, especially those which were previously inaccessible or difficult to reach by wheelchair in the first place.

robot-switzerland-mind-controlled

Despite the demonstrated successes, the innovation is not without impediment. While asking the patient to focus on a single task didn’t pose a problem at the onset, a need for extended periods of extreme concentration presented a difficult challenge. To help mitigate a wandering mind, the team programmed the computer to interpret thought in a dry, mechanical-like fashion. Once a command like ‘move my right hand’ was issued by the patient, the computer executed it until receiving a command to stop or encountering an obstacle.

Beyond the obvious implications for those with disabilities and changing face of human-machine interactions, the research also pushes the boundaries of what constitutes a normal social interaction. With this research in place, someday very soon we may all have to adjust to the idea of virtual presences manifesting in the physical world, which may well extend beyond simply assisting the immobilized.

Switzerland’s Federal Institute Of Technology In Luassane

PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on PSFK.com. If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.

technology
Trending

This LA Hotel Is Designed Specifically For Cocktail Drinkers

Design
Mobile Today

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Today

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Today

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Makoto Tanijiri

Imaginative Architect

Syndicated Today

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Today

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Today

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs Yesterday

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Today

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Today

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Today

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Today

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

PSFK LABS REPORT

Innovation Debrief: Boston
Business Concepts Born In 'The Hub'
AVAILABLE NOW

Design Today

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Today

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Today

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.