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Let your brain talk to computers

by Febo Cincotti for EuroPython 2012

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) collect the waveforms generated by the brain during its activity, and processes them in real-time, with the aim of translating human thoughts into the actions of a machine upon the surrounding environment. Though at the state of the art they cannot compete with more traditional forms of Human-computer interaction, both in terms of speed and in terms of accuracy, indeed they constitute an inspiring challenge for the neuroscientist, at the boundary between science and fiction. Pioneers talked about BCIs already fourthy years ago, but only in the last 15 years we witnessed their diffusion as research topic in the scientific community. More recently, BCIs appeared in the market arena. Entertainment is the mainstream target, but a minor, more important goal is being pursued: using these interfaces to let a person with severe motor disabilities be able to express himself, and control the surrounding environment. This option is still being actively investigated by scientists, thus cannot be of help for those who are in a locked-in state today. The Brindisys project aims at demonstrating the viability of this option, by developing novel technology to restore at least in part the independence of persons with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

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60 minutes (inc Q&A)
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