What are the possibilities of mind control?
Personal communicationThis group of applications comprises the spelling of text, composing and sending emails and letters. If a patient has generalised paralysis, their only way of communication without a BCI (if any) is with the help of a caregiver or note-taker. Introducing BCI-based communication devices enables the patient to send confidential messages that provides a great amount of independence and self-determination.
Environmental control and control of assistive robotsOpening the front door to visitors, turning lights on or off, controlling shades, regulating the room temperature, changing the backrest position as well as controlling an assistive robot are examples for this group of applications. Their use increases independence and decreases the workload of caregivers.
Rehabilitation trainingRecently, motor imagery-based BCI has been proposed as a rehabilitation tool to facilitate motor recovery in stroke. Motor imagery (MI) is a mental process in which a subject imagines that they are performing a movement. Several studies have demonstrated that motor imagery has a positive effect on motor rehabilitation after a stroke through activation of the affected sensorimotor networks. Since the performance of MI is internal to the subject, and thus not directly observable, BCI can facilitate the MI-based stroke rehabilitation by providing direct and immediate feedback on the MI performance.
Control of paralysed limbsUsing a BCI system can lead to the control of a limb orthosis (brace) or even allow for direct control of body parts via functional electrical stimulation (e.g. for bladder and swallow control or for paralysis due to different types of palsy).
MobilityMobility is likely to be of inherent interest for a paralysed patient. A straight-forward application of BCI is the control of electrical wheelchairs. If classifiable signals can be reliably translated into control sequences for the wheelchair, the paralysed patient regains a certain degree of mobility.
Treatment for attention deficiency
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Gaming and virtual realityIn addition to medical and rehabilitation applications, there is an increasing number of BCI applications for multimedia, such as for simple 2D video games to more advanced 3D video games. There are BCI systems used for navigating virtual worlds, and BCI systems used for selecting and/or manipulating virtual objects.
DiscussionCan you think of any other applications for BCI technology?
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