It appears we have entered another exciting period of the evolution of technology, as the first race of drones controlled by the mind has taken place at the University of Florida. Experts believe that such devices are currently recording an increasing popularity and will one day substantially change the way we live our lives.
The competition took place on April 16 and involved sixteen participants who had to use their will power to control the drones across a basketball court measuring a length of ten yards. But how could they manipulate the machines without any controllers?
The brilliant technology is named Brain Computer Interface, which has been previously used in the medicine field. For instance, some prosthetics already make use of BCI in order to allow paralyzed people to move once more.
PhD student Chris Crawford from the University of Florida has underlined the fact that experts need to both accept and further promote such consumer brand devices in order to broaden the use of the Brain Computer Interface technology to the public.
At the moment, the BCI is not only very popular but also quite accessible. Anyone can purchase headsets used for this technology from startups Emotiv or NeuroSky, and they cost a couple of hundred dollars.
The headsets used by the pilots in this competition were of the electroencephalogram type, especially tuned to identify the electrical activity associated with certain thoughts that occur in the brain. These signals are transformed into commands by programmers who write specific codes for them. In this way, the computer can send the commands to the drones.
The competition from the University of Florida drew a lot of praise from experts. According to Dr. Bin He from the University of Minnesota, who presented the first drones controlled by mind back in 2013,
“The progress of the BCI field has been faster than I had thought ten years ago. We are getting closer and closer to broad application.”
The professor of those who organized this special race, Juan Gilbert, has pointed out that people are becoming more and more dependent on devices based on the Internet. In this perspective, he plans to further explore the use of mind-controlled devices along with his team. It appears the possibilities are endless: from monitors various moods and unlocking doors to entering the virtual world.
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