Monday, June 8, 2009

Wheelchair controlled by thinking certain words


The luxury of unhindered mobility isn't shared by all of us. Restoring functionality to the disabled — whether they've experienced the loss of movement, sight, and so on — is one branch of medical science that seems limited only by the imagination of the researchers involved. Now the mind is playing an active role as an input for a wheelchair designed by a company called Ambient, which might remind you a bit of Charles Xavier's floating chair from older X-Men comics.

Ambient founders Michael Callahan and Thomas Coleman are responsible for the technology behind their wheelchair, called Audeo, which allows for control entirely by thought. Audeo monitors neural signals for specific words that serve as commands to make the chair go forward, backward and turn. Even if we don't say anything at all, the very act of thinking about what we're going to say still sends a signal from our brains to our larynx, so those who lack the ability to speak as well as move would still be able to control the wheelchair.

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