A new technique allows people to control their bionic arms with little mental effort. Here’s how the brain-computer interface works.
People with arm paralysis could easily feed in the future. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a new technique that allows a partially paralyzed man to feed using robotic arms connected through a brain-machine interface. He only had to make small fist movements at certain demands (such as “select the location of the cut”) for the arms equipped with a fork and knife to cut food and put it in his mouth.
The brain-computer interface can change lives
The new method focuses on a shared control system that minimizes the amount of mental input needed to complete a task. He could map his freedom of movement from four degrees (two for each hand) to 12 degrees of freedom to control the robot’s arms. Members’ promptly based smart responses also reduced workload.
However, the technology is still in its infancy. Scientists want to add touch-like sensory feedback, instead of relying solely on visual elements. It also hopes to improve accuracy and efficiency, while reducing the need for visual confirmation. In the long run, however, the team sees robotic arms like these restoring complex movements and giving more independence to people with disabilities.
As a reference, Neuralink, the company funded by billionaire Elon Musk, last year unveiled a new design for a brain-computer interface that it tested on animals.
Nathan Copeland is one of the few human beings who already has such a working interface. He broke his spine in a car accident and is paralyzed from the chest down.
Unlike the Neuralink prototype, which connects to the brain through dozens of thin wires and is meant to be small enough to sit inside the skull and transmit signals wirelessly, Copeland’s prototype consists of four plates. of silicon electrode and is inserted into the brain. This device allows the man to control robots and computers and sends external stimuli back to the brain.