Scientists develop mind-controlled wheelchairs

Toyota touts ability to control wheelchairs with brainwaves

Toyota Motor Corp. today announced that its researchers have developed technology that will allow human brainwaves to steer an electric wheelchair.

The technology is the fastest in the world for analyzing brainwaves, Toyota said, noting in a statement that systems now in use take several seconds to accomplish that task.

The new system can analyze brainwaves and put them to work on the chair in 125 milliseconds, or 125 thousandths of a second (view video).

"Such systems allow elderly or handicapped people to interact with the world through signals from their brains, without having to give voice commands," said Toyota. "This technology is expected to be useful in the field of rehabilitation, and for physical and psychological support of wheelchair drivers."

Toyota reported that the new system successfully enabled drivers to give thought-powered commands to their wheelchairs 95% of the time.

The company is working on developing better electrodes that pick up the brainwaves, as well as improving the system so it can handle more commands.

There was no information available on how soon the wheelchair technology could be on the market.

Research into combining biological systems with computers has been gaining attention in recent years.

Late in 2007, a scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson successfully connected a moth's brain to electronics, using it to guide a 12-inch-tall robot on wheels. Associate Professor Charles Higgins predicted at the time that "hybrid" computers running a combination of technology and living organic tissue will be available in 10 to 15 years.

Then in January of 2008, scientists in the U.S. and Japan announced that they had successfully used a monkey's brain activity to control a humanoid robot.

The research may only be a few years away from helping paralyzed people walk again by enabling them to use their thoughts to control exoskeletons attached to their bodies, Miguel Nicolelis, a lead researcher on the project, said at the time.

And about a year ago, Justin Rattner, CTO and a senior fellow at Intel, told Computerworld that perhaps as early as 2012 we'll see the lines between human and machine intelligence begin to blur.

Rattner also said that by 2050 or so, computing will be less about launching applications and more about living with computers woven into most daily activities.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Toyota

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?