A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota have designed a toy-sized quadcopter — a four-bladed helicopter — that gets its instructions from a person’s brain. It works through the use of a special electrode-equipped cap that reads brain waves using EEG and sends information to the copter wirelessly. By imagining different hand movements, the person wearing the cap can make the copter lift into the air and turn left or right. They weren’t able to control the forward momentum with the cap because it was preset into the copter, but once they mastered the control techniques, they “were able to fly the quadcopter through foam rings scattered around [an] indoor course.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Considerable research is being put into brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and their potential to transform the lives of people with paralysis or other motion disorders. The Minnesota copter is not the first of its kind; last year researchers in China created a drone that could be controlled with a commercial EEG headset. Minnesota team lead Bin He says that the next goal for his team is to “control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals.”
Combining years of neurological research and mindfulness techniques, Dr. Heather Berlin helps us better understand how the body’s most complex organ can easily be misled into negative thinking - and how we can stop that from happening.