June 29, 2009

Toyota Reveals Brain Wave Controlled Wheelchair

Toyota Motor Corp. has created a way of moving a wheelchair around by using brain waves, without the person having to move or speak.

Toyota's system, created with Japanese researchers, is one of the swiftest in the world in scrutinizing brain waves, they announced in a press release on Monday.

Although previous systems needed only a few seconds to interpret brain waves, the new technology needs an unparalleled 125 milliseconds, or 125 thousandths of a second.

For the wheelchair to work, the person wears a hat that can interpret brain signals, which are sent to a brain scan electroencephalograph, or EEG, and then evaluated in a computer program.

Mobility research is just one of Toyota's plans to help people travel around in different ways.

The new system lets the person turn left and right and move forward on the spot, states researchers. To come to a stop, the person in the wheelchair must inflate a cheek, which is sent to a sensor worn on the face.

Japanese rival Honda Motor Co. is also developing techniques that unite brain waves with mechanical movements.

Earlier in 2009, Honda debuted a video where a person wearing a helmet sat still but thought about lifting his right hand. The helmet picked up the thought, and in a second, Honda's robot Asimo, designed to answer to brain signals, lifted their right arm.

Honda and Toyota are not planning to transform the technology into merchandise for commercial sale, as they are still working on the research.


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