At this week’s CeBIT in Germany, Fraunhofer is displaying their “mental typewriter” — still mindnumbingly slow but getting better and faster all the time:
Signals from the brain are measured by 128 electrodes affixed to the subject’s scalp, similar to an electroencephalogram (EEG). With the help of a software programme, specific signals are picked out among the nebulous mass of information.
The computer’s self-learning capacity allows it to identify individual brain patters and constantly improve its performance, says Mueller.
…By analysing neural signals it is possible to determine before the actual movement takes place whether a person intends to move his or her right or left hand, for example.
“This way it takes five to 10 minutes to write a sentence,” according to Kaplow…A lot of time is taken up affixing the electrodes to the volunteer’s scalp, a procedure which usually last for about one hour.
“The breakthrough will come when we develop a contact-free EEG, something that looks like a cap, says Kaplow, who expects progress on this front during the current year.
Such a mobile electroencephalogram could be used by the emergency services to examine injured patients at the scene of an accident, she says.
…Brain-computer interfaces could also spread to the entertainment industry, creating a whole new class of video games. The could also be integrated into car safety systems by braking the vehicle in response to a driver’s thoughts.