Tag: ‘Brain’

Walkman-style brain scanner

23 May 2007

Portable brain scanner ---

Hitachi has successfully trial manufactured a lightweight, portable brain scanner that enables users to keep tabs on their mental activity during the course of their daily lives. The system, which consists of a 400 gram (14 oz) headset and a 630 gram (1 lb 6 oz) controller worn on the waist, is the result of Hitachi's efforts to transform the brain scanner into a familiar everyday item that anyone can use.

The rechargeable battery-operated mind reader relies on Hitachi's so-called "optical topography" technology, which interprets mental activity based on subtle changes in the brain's blood flow. Because blood flow increases to areas of the brain where neurons are firing (to supply glucose and oxygen to the tissue), changes in hemoglobin concentrations are an important index by which to measure brain activity. To measure these hemoglobin concentrations in real time, eight small surface-emitting lasers embedded in the headset fire harmless near-infrared rays into the brain and the headset's photodiode sensors convert the reflected light into electrical signals, which are relayed to the controller.

The real-time brain data can either be stored in Flash memory or sent via wifi to a computer for instant analysis and display. A single computer can support up to 24 mind readers at a time, allowing multiple users to monitor brain activity while communicating or engaging in group activities.

In addition to health and medical applications, Hitachi foresees uses for the personal mind reader in fields such as psychology, education and marketing. Although it is unclear what neuromarketing applications the company has in mind, it is pretty clear that access to real-time customer brain data would provide marketers with a better understanding of how and why shoppers make their purchasing decisions. One can also imagine interactive campaigns that, for example, ask customers to think positive thoughts about a certain product in exchange for discount coupons or the chance to win a prize.

The technology could also be used in new forms of entertainment such as "mind gaming," where the player's physical brain activity becomes a part of game play. It is also feasible to integrate the brain scanner with a remote control brain-machine interface that would allow users to operate electronic devices with their minds.

Hitachi has yet to determine when the personal mind reader will be made commercially available.

[Source: Tech-On!]

Model train controlled via brain-machine interface

17 Nov 2006

Hitachi brain-machine interface -- Hitachi has successfully tested a brain-machine interface that allows users to turn power switches on and off with their mind. Relying on optical topography, a neuroimaging technique that uses near-infrared light to map blood concentration in the brain, the system can recognize the changes in brain blood flow associated with mental activity and translate those changes into voltage signals for controlling external devices. In the experiments, test subjects were able to activate the power switch of a model train by performing mental arithmetic and reciting items from memory.

The prototype brain-machine interface allows only simple control of switches, but with a better understanding of the subtle variations in blood concentrations associated with various brain activities, the signals can be refined and used to control more complex mechanical operations.

In the long term, brain-machine interface technology may help paralyzed patients become independent by empowering them to carry out actions with their minds. In the short term, Hitachi sees potential applications for this brain-machine interface in the field of cognitive rehabilitation, where it can be used as an entertaining tool for demonstrating a patient’s progress.

The company hopes to make this technology commercially available in five years.

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Seihin World]

Mind-controlled wheelchair

11 Aug 2006

Brain waves A University of Electro-Communications team of researchers led by professor Kazuo Tanaka has developed a prototype of an electric wheelchair that the user can steer simply by thinking of which direction he or she would like to go.

The wheelchair interprets the user's intended direction by means of a skull cap outfitted with a system of sensors. The sensors read the brain waves, enabling the user to control the wheelchair's direction simply by thinking "move left" or "move right." Tests have shown that the wheelchair has an 80% degree of accuracy in interpreting the user's intentions and moving in the desired direction.

The field of mind-controlled technology has seen a number of significant developments recently, and the promise of wheelchairs, televisions and other devices that can be controlled by people with physical disabilities looms on the horizon.

The developers of the wheelchair also envision applications in computer games and in the field of entertainment.

The idea of using a brain interface in entertainment reminds me of this video excerpt from the "Music for Solo Performer," a sound piece composed by Alvin Lucier in 1964. In this performance, EEG electrodes attached to the performer's scalp pick up brain waves, which are used to control a variety of percussion instruments. The resulting music has a nice, mind-altering effect.

[Source: Nikkei Net]

Brain collection on display at Miraikan

21 Mar 2006

"Brain! - Exploring Wondrous Mysteries," an exhibit showcasing the latest in brain research, has opened at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology (Miraikan) in Odaiba, Tokyo.

Brain

Featured is a collection of about 150 brains and nervous systems of animals ranging from whales to insects (and humans). The exhibit is divided into three areas designed to give visitors a well-rounded tour of the mysteries of the brain. One area focuses on the brain's functions and evolution, another area includes interactive exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of how the five senses work, and another introduces a variety of technology used in neuroscience research.

The entrance fee is 900 yen for adults and 350 yen for visitors under 18. The exhibit runs through May 31.

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun]