It's all in the Mind

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Jan 19, 2015 2:00:00 PM

Controlling objects using the mind has been the stuff of science fiction for a long time, but are we any closer to acheiving it? We're not talking telekinesis and being able to levitate objects and throw them around the room, but the idea that we can control machines through our mind and perform tasks that are difficult to do with our hands.  


Researchers at universities around the world are investigating the use of headsets to measure brainwaves and use them to control machines.  At the moment, much of this work is focused on helping disabled people get a degree of functionality that they wouldn't otherwise have.  To date, much of this work has involved the expensive and painful insertion of devices into the brain, but now researchers at the Univserity of Buffalo have developed an external device that reads EEG brain activity and wirelessly transmits the signals from its 14 sensors to a computer and then onto a robot.   So far, the technoogy has been used to insert pegs into holes after a few days of training.  Watch video.

In the future, physically demanding and dangerous jobs may one day be a thing of the past.  Factories may have engineers that watch robotic arms controlled by their brains and operatives in steel factories may be able to avoid molten metal by tipping the red hot liquids just by imagning it.

The new Disney movie, Big Hero 6, looks at how a headband can be used to control "microbots" and manipulate many of them into many shapes.   Disney's microbots may ahve been relatively large, but the principle behind is much smaller and research company SRI International have created microbots which can be sued to build small scale structures and applications as seen here.  Currently, these bots are the same as many others and pre-programmed to perform their tasks, but by being able to harness the power of the mind, we may one day be able to control objects at will and build the things that, many of us, without the programming ability, can only dream of.

The future is changing the way we work and with it more people who are prevented fromn entering the workplace because of disabilities, are bing empowered 


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