Controlling a computer with the brain – it is not telekinesis, but highly valuable applied research.
At the first “Cybathlon” in October, people with severe handicaps will participate in a competition with the aid of the latest prosthetics and assistance systems. Among those in attendance in Switzerland will be an Austrian with severe arm and leg disabilities and a student group from the Technical University of Graz.
Brain-computer-interfaces (BCI) computers allow machines or prosthetics to be controlled solely with the power of thought. The results are relevant for, among other things, the rehabilitation of people with severe physical disabilities.
“It begins with the ability to communicate, continues through muscle and nerve stimulation and on to an increased capacity for concentration”, summarizes Gernot Müller-Putz, head of the Institute for Neurotechnology at the Technical University of Graz. The researchers at the Graz Institute have been working with this topic for 25 years.
Cybathlon at ETH Zürich
On 8th October, people with severe physical disabilities will be competing in events in six different disciplines using prosthetics that they control with their own brain signals. The Cybathlon is organized by the ETH Zürich. Some 80 teams from all over the world have registered.
“The events include obstacle course races for people with prosthetic legs, dexterity tests for participants with prosthetic arms, and an obstacle course race for paraplegic pilots using a motorized exoskeleton”, says team leader David Steyrl.
In the BCI race discipline, severely disabled participants control a figure in a race on the computer. Austrian Gerhard Kleinhofer from Gußwerk near Mariazell is participating here with the student team.