Menu
This new wireless tech lets monkeys control a wheelchair using just their thoughts

This new wireless tech lets monkeys control a wheelchair using just their thoughts

Based on brain implants, it could offer new promise for people suffering from paralysis or ALS

New wireless technology makes it possible for monkeys to control a robotic wheelchair using just their thoughts, without the need for EEG electrodes on the scalp or wires connecting to an external computer.

Developed by neuroscientists at Duke University, the new brain-machine interface relies instead on hair-thin microfilaments implanted in two regions of the monkeys' brains. Using those microfilaments, the wireless BMI -- a device that gets affixed to the monkey's head -- simultaneously records signals from hundreds of neurons in both regions.

As the monkeys think about moving toward their goal, computers translate their brain activity into real-time operation of the wheelchair.

There have been other studies involving thought-controlled wheelchairs, but most rely on EEG and a wired model along with some physical capability in the user. This wireless system could have particularly exciting implications for disabled people who have lost most muscle control and mobility due to quadriplegia or ALS, the researchers said.

“In some severely disabled people, even blinking is not possible,” said Miguel Nicolelis, co-director at the Duke Center for Neuroengineering and senior author on a paper describing the work. “For them, using a wheelchair or device controlled by noninvasive measures like an EEG may not be sufficient. We show clearly that if you have intracranial implants, you get better control of a wheelchair than with noninvasive devices.”

Roughly 70 percent of paralyzed patients are willing to accept surgically implanted electrodes in their brains in order to gain control over their assistive devices, the researchers said.

A paper describing the interface was published Thursday in the online journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers tested their system using two rhesus macaque monkeys, who were motivated by a bowl of fresh grapes. In their tests, they measured the activity of nearly 300 neurons in each of the two monkeys.

Next, researchers hope to expand the experiment by recording more neuronal signals in an effort to increase the accuracy and fidelity of the primate BMI before seeking trials for an implanted device in humans.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments