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Paralyzed Patients Control Robot With Brain Waves

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the watch-out-for-doctor-hawkins dept.

Robotics 49

sciencehabit writes with a writeup of a French research paper in Science. From the article: "They're not quite psychic yet, but machines are getting better at reading your mind. Researchers have invented a new, noninvasive method for recording patterns of brain activity and using them to steer a robot. Scientists hope the technology will give 'locked in' patients ... the ability to interact with others and even give the illusion of being physically present ... with friends and family." The really interesting thing here is that people who had not used their limbs in years were able to learn how to control the robot (as well as the control group did) after being trained only an hour a week for six weeks.

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49 comments

Also good for interrogation? (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318984)

It might make a pretty good lie detector.

Re:Also good for interrogation? (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319028)

If you can prove it's infallible and hasn't been tampered with, of course. Wouldn't it just be marvelous if it translated any variation of fear into, "I admit, I planted that bomb."?

Re:Also good for interrogation? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319036)

...and we've come full circle back to the polygraph machine.

Re:Also good for interrogation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37325120)

It might make a pretty good lie detector.

Nope, not at all.

It's not "reading your mind" to start off with. It keys off of specific patterns of neural activity which occur just prior to the firing of the muscle impulses. These patterns have to be trained in addition to that. If anything it simply means you could easily train yourself to pass such a detection method by firing your neurons in different patters.
The actual thought processes which lead up to the firing of the muscle control centers is different in every person, and often different every time the same person thinks about the same thing.

Cowboy Bebop reference (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37318992)

Sounds like episode 23 of Cowboy Bebop "Brain Scratch"

Re:Cowboy Bebop reference (1)

JustSomeProgrammer (1881750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319380)

I was thinking one step in the direction of Surrogates. (Not really a good movie, but interesting concept)

Re:Cowboy Bebop reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320226)

I would of gone with Firefox-- the title plane in the Clint Eastwood move.

Re:Cowboy Bebop reference (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37321256)

I think Angelic Layer is a much better anime reference for this subject, given that the entire story is about playing fighting games using mind-controlled toy robots so that the inventor can use the technology to help his girlfriend(?) walk again.

EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319042)

I suppose we'll have to wait for Davros for proper integration!

Paralyzing Patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319072)

Off-topic but I have read it as Paralyzing Patents at first. Then I thought: Cool technology, but how long it is going to take to clear the legal fences so it could really help some people in need.

Wearable Robots (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319082)

Being able to control an avatar is a great step, but it's not too hard to imagine coupling this with one of Kamen's iBOT [metacafe.com] vehicles to allow these people to regain some mobility. Throw some grappling arms on there and the person might even gain a bit of independence.

Re:Wearable Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326142)

In terms of robotic overlords, the road from independence to global destruction is measured in seconds.

THE QUESTION remains as always; can these paralyzed patients find Sarah Connor?

The Rest of the Story (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319176)

"Paralyzed Patients Control Robot With Brain Waves..."

...Order Robot to Destroy Nurse Who Ignored Them.

Re:The Rest of the Story (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319468)

"Paralyzed Patients Control Robot With Brain Waves..."

...Order Robot to Destroy Nurse Who Ignored Them.

...followed immediately by robot sex!

A little late for Joe Bonham (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319202)

Unless they've managed to keep him alive this long.

Re:A little late for Joe Bonham (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319314)

Still has no eyes and cannot speak, can't remember if he can hear or not though... I'm thinking not.

Movement seems a bit pointless for him.

He could sense different vibrations (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319418)

And he learned to identify them.

These days a cochlear implant would probably fix that.

Other Project Like This (2)

jjp9999 (2180664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319218)

There's a project on Kickstarter about this right now, using Rovio robots and an EMOTIV headset. It's always interesting to see some form of new technology being worked on in a few places simultaneously - usually means something is about to hit big. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/robots/robodance-5-telepresence-robotics-for-all-esp-the [kickstarter.com]

Re:Other Project Like This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319998)

It all started after The Big Bang Theory's episode where Sheldon had a virtual presence device.

The time is ripe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37322064)

It's always interesting to see some form of new technology being worked on in a few places simultaneously - usually means something is about to hit big.

for a patent to stifle all that simultaneous innovation. Since we all know innovation belongs only to those who hold some crummy shit of paper from the Patent Office.

Continuous connection for self-teaching (1)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319334)

There is no reason for them to be connected to this only 1 hour a day. Perhaps if the patients were connected to their avatars continuously for two or three days, they would quickly grow accustomed to it through personal experimentation in much the same way that self-taught programmers train themselves in a new language. I think that if they are self-taught for controlling the avatar that they might be much more efficient at it.

Infocom did this 30 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319352)

But now I can play a live version of Suspended. Now we just have to figure out the cryogenically freezing someone without killing them bit.

It's only fair... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319364)

Should I be worried that their lawyers demand that such controls be installed on us, the unparalyzed?

Some relevant information for speculators (1)

bullale (2441834) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319438)

1. The paper was in English and it was from a lab in Switzerland. Switzerland has French as an official language, but other than that there was nothing French about this. (I'm pretty sure that lab operates in English). 2. You have to train the computer to recognize certain patterns of brainwaves and train the user to make those brainwaves when they wish to do a certain function. Therefore this is not capable of mind reading unless you train the computer to recognize and distinguish between the brain-waves associated with every thought (or thought-fragment) the participant might ever have. People are working on this (sorry, I don't know how to do html tags). http://www.npr.org/2011/05/12/135598390/mind-reading-technology-turns-thought-into-action [npr.org] 3. You should conceptually dissociate the brain-waves from the robot. The voluntary modulation of brain waves can be used to control anything, if that thing can accept (up to 3-d, currently) analog input. One application is a robot. I've seen this used to control robotic arms, wheelchairs, videogames (pong, space invaders, doom), lighting, movies, toys, just about anything you can do with a joystick. Really, all they are doing here is creating a virtual joystick in the computer and having that virtual joystick control the robot. 4. Brain control is currently very slow. When the application has intelligence, then the amount that you can accomplish with the relatively slow brainwave input increases as you relinquish control from the participant to the robot AI. For example, it takes a lot less effort to tell a robot you are thirsty and have the robot move to the fridge, open the fridge, retrieve a beer, close the fridge, open the beer, poor it into a glass, put a straw in the glass, bring the glass to you, and put the straw in your mouth (I skipped a lot of steps) than it is to have the user mentally control the robot while it does all of those tasks. But then what happens when the robot can't find the straws? The same is true if you have a joystick with a 'thirsty' button or if you have a joystick that operates every movement of the robot. 5. The brain isn't really designed for smooth continuous movements. A lot of that comes from other parts of the nervous system, like the brainstem, the cerebellum, and the spinal cord. Intelligent robots might not need smooth continuous input. However, your dreams of nimbly controlling an exoskeleton in outer-space battles might require more than having electrodes in a cap on the outside of your head, it will likely require electrodes inside your head, spine, brainstem or some other amazing technology that doesn't yet exist.

Re:Some relevant information for speculators (1)

bullale (2441834) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319512)

Someone please teach me how to format my comments.

Re:Some relevant information for speculators (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37319668)

Click on 'Account' then 'Posting' and select 'Plain text' instead of HTML.

Re:Some relevant information for speculators (1)

bullale (2441834) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320820)

Thank you. The links didn't work for me in Chrome, hence why I never learned, but I managed to update it in IE.

Re:Some relevant information for speculators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37329346)

Hit ALT+F4 to auto-format.

Sorry...the first thing that came to *MY* mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319796)

http://futurama.wikia.com/index.php?title=A_Head_in_the_Polls&image=AHeadinthePolls-png ...the static picture doesn't do it justice, though.

Telecommute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37319888)

The future of telecommute is here! I'm a _great_ multitasker, I can work 3 jobs at once!

Re:Telecommute (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37320436)

This is the futuristic equivalent to the "Reply All" faux pas. Can you imagine what would happen when workers forget to log out at the end of the day?

Robots sitting in empty, darkened offices,spanking it to unseen internet porn- sobbing in self loathing and shame.

Test subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320012)

This guy [bbc.co.uk] needs to be in the study.

A little too much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37320796)

What happen when a paralyzed patient want to kick some brat in the nuts because he's a bit too annoying?

Why only 1 hour a week? (1)

Griffyn (948838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37321644)

I want to hear about the patients who have been training 8 hours a day for 6 weeks. Do they have something better to do?

how many people used the robot to punch someone? (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37322556)

I know if I was "locked in" I would be pretty pissed off at all kinds of people for not helping me and/or mocking me. not to mention the frustration of not being able to control your body.

Covert Implantation of Radiotelepathy Neurotech (1)

Roark Meets Dent (650119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37323018)

The current state of implantable neurotechnology is far more advanced than this story. The good stuff is not in the public sphere at all. Total remote control of the human mind and body via wireless link is where the real neurotechnology is at now. It's being deployed against unwitting subjects without their knowledge or consent. For more information check out this research material: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22covert+implantation+of+radiotelepathy%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.com]

I never asked for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37323306)

said the robot.

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Dreadnought here I come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37325724)

I'm holding out until I can be inserted into one of these [blogspot.com] bad boys upon death.

Bruce Willis will have to save us again... (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#37327460)

It'll require a reincarnation after he blows up the Earth destroying asteroid, but don't worry. After this spreads from the shut-ins to everyone using it, Bruce will be there to bring the network down and force everyone to come out of their house and talk to their neighbors.

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