SF News – Using what is called a Brain-Computer Interface technology or BCI, scientists at the University of Essex have been helping NASA with a new design test to control spacecrafts. The technology originally was intended to enable people with disabilities enter control commands into computers using only their brain waves without using their hands.
During the project, the scientists managed to control a virtual spacecraft using thoughts only.
BCI feeds human brain signals into a converter that will translate them into computer understandable commands. The technology can be used in many applications in which the user would need both hands free.
The university is now developing an extended BCI technology which it calls the “Collaborative BCI”. In this method tasks are performed by multiple people rather than just one person. That would make the result more efficient as BCI relies on the focused concentration of the subject for optimal performance. In Collaborative BCI, instead, if one person loses focus in concentration for any reason, the others will compensate and produce the missing commands.
During NASA’s project, performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California, two people participated together in controlling a virtual spacecraft helping it travel to another planet. Electrodes integrated into a cap that the two pilots wore picked up brain their signals for the BCI.