This new device hopes to make it easier to connect your thoughts with your computer. Via Engadget:
The as-of-yet-unnamed device is essentially an EMG wristband. It senses the changes of electrical potential in the user’s arm muscles, “the signal that your motor neurons are sending … the impulses that it’s gonna send into the muscles in your arm that’ll pull on the tendons that connect to your fingers,” Astolfi said. This information is then fed back into a machine learning algorithm which enables the system to reconstruct what the hand is doing, whether it’s typing, swiping or gesturing.
Measuring the electrical impulses through your arm, rather than your scalp as traditional EEGs do, helps increase signal fidelity. “When you put electrodes on the head, you deal with all the other electrical signals that your brain is putting out. Static from consciousness and seeing, and getting sensations back from the body,” Astolfi explained. “When you go down lower to an area like the arm, your body has already done all of the filtering for you.” That is, the signals travelling through the arm are those signifying an intentional action, “so it actually gives a lot cleaner signal, and then a lot larger density of signal as we start to drill down into finer grain detecting of the neuron spikes.”
“Because we’re actually looking at the muscle signals and not tracking that actual finger movement, you can start to abstract away from actually needing to move your fingers,” he explained. “So, depending on what you train into the system, you might be able to train a little muscle twitch, or actually just the initial motor neuron spike, without actually resulting in any physical movement of the finger.”
This system could eventually lead to more responsive prosthetics as well, however, initially the company is focusing on three specific applications for the wristband: VR gaming, navigating 3D environments such as immersive AutoCAD or Autodesk models, and robotics.
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