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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Toyota

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?