Scientists Successfully Connects Brain to Android Tablet

Tablet recognizes the prosthetic as a wireless Bluetooth mouse.

Scientists from Stanford University's BrainGate program revealed that a woman suffering Lou Gehrig’s disease can successfully control a Nexus tablet with her brainwaves.

The team built upon eye-tracking technology that uses eye movement to control mouse cursors and “click” by focusing on a single spot. However, the technology can be inaccurate and tiring for users.

The program instead “cut out the middleman” by implanting a baby-aspirin-sized 100-channel electrode micro array into the left side of the patient's brain that’s responsible for movement.

Image Courtesy of FreePik
Neural signals were decoded in real time by algorithms to control the mouse cursor. This method let the patient type out words on a custom keyboard by concentrating on the words they wanted to spell.

A Nexus 9 was incorporated into the setup when they realize the touchscreen controls of a tablet was similar to the existing the point-and-click system. The neuro-prosthetic now communicated with the touchscreen device via Bluetooth protocols, allowing the patient to control where she tapped on the touchscreen using her brainwaves.

“Basically the tablet recognized the prosthetic as a wireless Bluetooth mouse,” Stanford University neuroengineer Dr. Paul Nuyujukian said during the 2015 Society for Neuroscience annual conference, Singularity Hub reports.

She can now navigate links easily, type more efficiently with the autocomplete feature and access the Android app store.

The team are currently developing ways to integrate click-and-drag and multi-touch gestures, expand the technology to more operating platforms and introduce the program to more patients. The program also hopes to enable users to operate the device whenever they want without supervision.

“Our goal is to unlock the full user interface common to general-purpose computers and mobile devices,” said Nuyujukian. “This is a first step towards developing a fully-capable brain-controlled communication and computer interface for restoring function for people with paralysis.”

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