Why Not Fly a Drone – With Your Mind?

Calling all telekinetics! Well, not quite. But the next best thing to truly controlling matter with your mind might be controlling a drone through the power of your thoughts. It sounds straight out of science fiction (and in a sense, it is), but a lot of great science fact began as fiction. Engineering and computer science students at the University of Florida seem to agree, which inspired them to create an interface that allows someone to control a small aerial drone with their brain. But what do you do with brain-controlled drones? The answer should be obvious: you race them. (Engineering.com)

'I think and then I walk': UCI experiment marks the first time a paraplegic walks by brain control

After a motorcycle crash paralyzed his legs, Adam Fritz never stopped thinking he would walk again. Those very thoughts, aided by new technology, activated a first-of-its-kind experiment in which Fritz’s brain waves enabled him to walk a 12-foot course inside a UC Irvine research lab. The 29-year-old insurance claims adjuster spent countless hours thinking about walking so that his brain waves could be recorded. His thoughts were then decoded by a computer algorithm, which in turn directed his first step, bypassing his damaged spinal cord to fire the muscles in his legs. “I think and then I walk. It was incredible,” Fritz said. “It gives you that hope for the future.” (The Orange County Register)

What if we could record and rewind our thoughts?

Scientific discoveries that involve humans interfacing with machines can evoke reactions of fear and wonder. Quite often, these feelings are epitomized through works of science fiction. Think Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” for starters; or its modern day equivalent, one of many films playing on our mixed feelings toward AI, “Ex Machina.” (PLOS Neuro)

ALS Patients May Benefit Most from Tailored Brain–Computer Interface Programs

Cognitive impairment may present an obstacle for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using brain-computer interface devices, according to a study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The findings underscore the importance of considering disease heterogeneity when designing these potentially beneficial devices for clinical use. (ALS News Today)

Unsupervised, Mobile and Wireless Brain–Computer Interfaces on the Horizon

Researchers are working to engineer practical devices that patients can use in their homes

Juliano Pinto, a 29-year-old paraplegic, kicked off the 2014 World Cup in São Paulo with a robotic exoskeleton suit that he wore and controlled with his mind. The event was broadcast internationally and served as a symbol of the exciting possibilities of brain-controlled machines. Over the last few decades research into brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), which allow direct communication between the brain and an external device such a computer or prosthetic, has skyrocketed. Although these new developments are exciting, there are still major hurdles to overcome before people can easily use these devices as a part of daily life. (Scientific American)