AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin published a study in the journal iScience about computer systems that could turn mind activity into action.
“The concept of a thought-powered wheelchair has been studied for years, but most projects have used non-disabled subjects or stimuli that lead the device to more or less control the person rather than the other way around,” researchers said.
The study had several people with motor disabilities operate a wheelchair that translates their thoughts into movement, according to a release.
“In this case, three individuals with tetraplegia, the inability to move their arms and legs due to spinal injuries, operated the wheelchair in a cluttered, natural environment to varying degrees of success,” researchers said. “The interface recorded their brain activity, and a machine-learning algorithm translated it into commands that drove the wheelchair.”
According to the release, the study was also significant because of the noninvasive equipment used to operate the wheelchair since researchers did not implant any kind of device into the participants or use any kind of stimulation on them.
“Participants wore a cap covered with electrodes that recorded brain electrical activity, known as an electroencephalogram (EEG),” researchers said. “An amplifying device sent those electrical signals to a computer that interpreted each participant’s intentions and translated them into movement.”