Austrian biomedical firm Guger Technologies is promoting a new electroencephalography (EEG) device that lets users type with their minds, calling it the world's first commercial brain-machine interface for personal use.
Consisting of an EEG cap, display, and computer, Intendix is designed for severely disabled patients and people with symptoms of locked-in syndrome, a condition (featured in the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") in which patients suffer near-total paralysis while their minds continue to function normally.
After only 10 minutes of training, most patients can type 5-10 characters per minute by focusing on each character on the display, according to Guger. Users count the number of times a letter flashes on the display, and the EEG cap picks up the related electrical activity through the surface of the skin.
Users can also "command" Intendix to speak the text, print it, or copy it to an e-mail. Other functions, such as opening doors or turning on the TV in a smart home, or moving an on-screen avatar, are possible. A separate brain-Twitter interface that lets people send tweets with thoughts alone has also been demonstrated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Brain signals have also been used to operate humanoid robots, with the eventual goal of routing them through EEG devices and computers to enable people with paralyzed legs to walk. The nascent BCI X Prize aims to further brain-computer interface (BCI) development.
This video from several years ago describes Guger's BCI speller technology, claimed to be the fastest in the world. The firm says Intendix--which was on display at the CeBit tech fair in Hannover, Germany, last week--is now available for rent before sale. The retail price is apparently around $12,000. The price tag may be enormous, but this device could make a big difference to immobile patients.
(Via Singularity Hub)