Robert Oschler is a robotics enthusiast with a special interest in telepresence. He has been developing his own software for years, but the latest iteration of his Robodance client brings together the Rovio robot and EPOC’s EEG-monitoring device. We often report on the developments of huge companies in the medical technology field, so we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the smaller-scale, independent developers who are exploring applications of human-technology interfaces that could one day be translated into health care applications. We had a chance to ask Robert a couple questions, but he did want to make sure we made it known that he is not a physician and that the comments below are merely speculation.
Medgadget. : How robust is the EPOC’s interface? Is it of sufficient quality to enable someone without the use of their limbs to browse the web or write an e-mail with reasonable speed?
R.O. : For browsing that is a potentially fruitful application because it is more dependent on the cleverness of the coding rather than complex signal decoding and identification. I would say web browsing, if the right interface is created, would be very possible. Since browsing a web page can be broken down into two main activities, scrolling and link selection, the headset does provide enough robust data to create usable triggers that could be used to reasonably “drive” a web page browsing session. Any other application whose interface can be codified similarly would also be a reasonable target for “hands-free” control by the Emotiv.
M.G.: Do you see any applications of this type of project in a medical capacity, such as remote presence of physicians at the patient bedside?
R.O. : Absolutely. The robot could act as a remote pair of eyes and ears allowing the physician to make house calls via telepresence. Psychotherapists could find the EPOC headset technology useful to do, for example, an EMG analysis of a patient’s subtle facial muscle tension to provide deeper clues to the patient’s underlying emotional state during remote interviews. There are many other possibilities beyond those two of course….I believe that there are some people doing work with the P300 “recognition” response in conjunction with alphabetic character recognition for those with “locked-in” syndrome…
Robert is also featured on a Kickstarter page, where he is accepting donations to further his work (pledging at a certain level gives you a taste of telepresence by letting you explore his “robot room” remotely). Be sure to check out this page and, if you are so inclined, give some support to this project.
Hat tip: TechCrunch…