A number of technologies have recently been advanced that enable the user to control items like computers, prostheics, and wheelchairs by thinking commands. Brain signals are mapped to specific commands so that when the user thinks a command like “forward” the wheelchair moves forward. It means that over time, movement can become more natural and the patient will instinctively give the command or control that’s needed to use the item in question.
EEG, or Electroencephalography, has become one of the pioneering technologies behind this. Users need to have roughly 4 sessions of several hours each session when they are taught to use their chair. Rather than being taught specific commands, the wheelchair will react to other commands that the user has already mastered. Thinking about moving the left hand up may make the wheelchair move left for example.
However EEG is limited in its capability. For a start it can only recognise a few different commands and can not enjoy the kind of intricacy that one would hope for. One promising alternative is Shared Control.
Rather than working on individual commands and directions, a Shared Control wheelchair user would think about where they want to go and the chair would start moving towards it. This relies less on specific commands and more on the automatic reflexes of the brain. The chair would also use miniature webcams integrated into its design.
The cameras are used to detect obstacles so that the chair can navigate around other items. This would make the chair useful even in tighter spaces such as the home or in shops.
While it may sound like a technology of the future, scientists at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have already developed the chair and students have even tested it, although it has yet to be tested on paralyzed patients – nevertheless, the concept is definitely a promising one.
Source:- Technology Review