Jedi mind tricks come to life at the U of M - KMSP-TV

Jedi mind tricks come to life at the U of M

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The old Jedi mind trick of moving something with your mind has come to reality.

Just put a swimming cap-like device on your head and you can start moving objects just by thinking about it. This breakthrough is happening at the University of Minnesota and it's the first time humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts sensed from a noninvasive skull cap.

This is how it works: If the person thinks about clenching their left hand into a fist, the robot turns right. Think about making a fist with your right hand and the flying robot turns left. The application for a device like this goes far beyond fun and games. It has the potential to help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers envision that they'll use this technology to control wheelchairs, artificial limbs or other devices.

The noninvasive technique, called electroencephalography (EEG), is a unique brain-computer interface that records electrical activity of the subjects' brain through a specialized, high-tech EEG cap fitted with 64 electrodes.

"Our next step is to use the mapping and engineering technology we've developed to help disabled patients interact with the world," said Bin He, lead author of the study and biomedical engineering professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering. "It may even help patients with conditions like autism or Alzheimer's disease or help stroke victims recover. We're now studying some stroke patients to see if it'll help rewire brain circuits to bypass damaged areas." 

Karl LaFleur, a biomedical engineering researcher at the U of M talks to FOX 9 about this emerging technology.

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