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Robotics Hardware Science

Paralyzed Woman Uses Mind-Controlled Robot Arm 43

MrSeb writes "Using BrainGate, the world's most advanced brain-computer interface, a woman with quadriplegia has used a mind-controlled robot arm to serve herself coffee — an act she hasn't been able to perform for 15 years. BrainGate, which is being developed by a team of American neuroscientists from Brown and Stanford universities, and is currently undergoing clinical trial, requires a computer chip to be implanted in the motor cortex of the patient, which it then transmits to a computer for processing. Like all brain-computer interfaces, the user must train the software — but once this is done, you simply think of a movement, and the software moves the robot accordingly. Moving forward, the researchers would like to miniaturize the system and make it wireless — at the moment, BrainGate users have a box attached to their head, and they're tethered to a computer — which is OK for robot arm use at home, but obviously doesn't grant much mobility. The work was partly funded by DARPA, with the hope of creating more advanced prosthetics for wounded war veterans." This comes on the heels of a 71-year-old man regaining motor function in his fingers after doctors rewired his nerves to bypass the damaged ones.
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Paralyzed Woman Uses Mind-Controlled Robot Arm

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  • Re:20+ years ago... (Score:5, Informative)

    by virgnarus ( 1949790 ) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:00PM (#40035803)

    There's a lot of obstacles that need to be overcome that would ultimately explain the slow progression. First of all, the brain is still being understood, and continues to surprise scientists with how it operates. In addition to this, you also have the deal with the body's reaction to invasive brain implants like this one, which they are attempting to avoid through use of more bio-friendly materials to substitute the gold and silicon. There's a lot of studies being conducted on attempting to workaround this through less invasive or noninvasive interfaces (like the consumer brand Emotiv product), but signal output at these levels is very noisy and vague. Don't forget that research is fragmented on this as there's several ways to achieve the same goal, such as either a replacement limbs that moves on neural stimuli, or the use of an external robotic arm as seen here.

    Intel is now just getting serious about putting heavy money towards brain interface research, so it's good a big microchip computer like them are putting their vested interest in this, and that will indeed expedite the process, but there's just so much that's still left to be learned and all of it must come together in an affordable package. It's no different than quantum computers - researchers are learning more on the mechanics behind it while at the same time creating working products on what they've learned so far. Things are going to start rudimentary, yes, but one needs to be positive on this that there's actually progress being done.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!