Nov 072010
 
theta waves.
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Light switches, TV remote controls and even house keys could become a thing of the past thanks to brain-computer interface (BCI) technology being developed in Europe that lets users perform everyday tasks with thoughts alone.

The technology, which was demonstrated at CeBIT in Hannover in March, provides an innovative way of controlling the interconnected electronic devices that will populate the smart homes of the future, granting increased autonomy to people with physical disabilities as well as pleasing TV channel-surfing couch potatoes.

“The BCI lets people turn on lights, change channels on the TV or open doors just by thinking about it,” explains Christoph Guger, the CEO of Austrian medical engineering company g.tec that developed the application.

g.tec teamed up with a group of international universities and research institutes as part of the EU-funded Presenccia project to incorporate its BCI technology into virtual environments. As part of the project a fully functioning smart home was created in virtual reality (VR).

“It has a kitchen, bathroom, living room… everything a normal home would have. People are able to move through it just by thinking about where they wanted to go,” Guger says.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment is used to monitor electrical activity in a user’s brain via electrodes attached to their scalp. After a period of training, the system learns to identify the distinctive patterns of neuronal activity produced when they imagine walking forwards, flicking on a light switch or turning up the radio.

Liberating possibilities for people with disabilities

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