It might seem like sci-fi, but researchers are now experimenting with a new mind-controlled device that allows users to fly a small model helicopter with their thoughts. University of Minnesota researchers have created a brain-computer-interface. This system allows the human brain to directly communicate with the external device, and the user is able to control the flight path of the object that is airborne.
This flying device is called a quad-copter and can be controlled only by thinking about certain movements. Scientists say that one day; this futuristic technology might just help individuals with disabilities to lead more quality-filled and independent lives.
The Smart Cap
This specially designed interface is non-invasive. What this means is that it doesn’t make use of any implanted devices. Instead, the users have to simply wear an electro-encephalography cap that has 64 electrodes attached to it.
These electrodes pick up the signals that are sent out by the brain. When the wearer thinks about any specific movement- right, left, up or down, the neurons in the motor cortex of the brain produce various tiny electric signals that get transmitted to a computer, said the lead scientist of the project, Bin who is a biomedical engineer.
The signal that is sent from the brain is picked up by the sensors, decoded and then transmitted via a Wi-Fi system to actually control the quad-copter. Researcher Bin and his colleagues have been testing this new system on students.
They are first trained for 10-20 hours, to use their thoughts to distinguish between various movements. Post this training, they are then permitted to wear the cap with the electrodes and test their mind power on the quad-copter. No doubt, the mind is a powerful tool, but who would have dreamt that thought waves would one day be used to man flying devices?