Have you ever dreamed of the day we would be able to type on a computer without using a keyboard or our fingers? What if it were possible to type using your brain? This is an idea which has been in development for more than twenty years. During ceBIT 2011, Intendix showed off a product designed to help people without motor skills type on a computer. The future of technology is here, folks!
I volunteered to try this cap out, despite being a little nervous – and yes, I am aware I may have looked a tad silly in this getup. The system is based on your EEG potentials, enabling you to select characters in sequence from a matrix on the screen… just by paying attention to your target for several seconds. It’s not a fast process, by any means – but it DOES work.
The intendiX requires a bit of training, but after about ten minutes you will be able to spell 5-10 characters per minute! The cap uses an algorithm to detect what you’re thinking, so that it only selects characters when you pay attention to the system. Besides typing, the user can also use the system to trigger an alarm, make the computer speak written text out loud, print or copy the text into emails or even send commands to external devices!
The extension tool used to control external devices is called the extendiX. It runs on a separate computer which controls other devices and applications such as a television, music, assistive robots and even games. The extendiX receives commands from the intendiX cap via UDP. The entire system is designed around a Brain-Computer Interface:
A Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) provides a new communication channel between the human brain and a computer. The BCI system detects such changes and transforms them into control signals, which can be used for moving objects, writing letters, opening doors, changing TV channels and other everyday household activities.
It’s mind-boggling to try and understand all of the technology behind this device and the protocols that make it work. The important thing, though, is that it DOES work. We are watching advances in technology that will literally change the world.