Wired has a report and video on a research project by Spanish researchers to develop a wheelchair which can be controlled by a brain-computer interface.
Brain-computer interfaces are big news at the moment, although most of the excitement is focused on the sci-fi-like interfaces that implant directly into the brain.
These systems are all lab-based prototypes at the moment so it’s interesting to see the Spanish team, led by Dr Javier Minguez, use off the shelf parts to attempt to make something that could be widely available.
The system will read and process from brain signals via EEG to determine the intended direction, but also use an electronic collision avoidance system to help the wheelchair make fine-grained adjustments.
While most the media attention focuses on direct brain implants, it is this sort of remarkably practical approach that will most quickly produce a potentially life-enhancing and relatively low-cost solution for severely paralysed people.