News, Technology, Virtual Reality

From Intent to Action: Brain Interface Allows Users to Control Devices through ‘Imagination’

Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer

A cohort of researchers at Georgia Tech have come up with a new VR-enabled BMI system—allowing users to ‘imagine an action’ to wirelessly transmit commands to prosthetic devices

Who knew the next big thing in science would be telekinesis? 

An international team of researchers led by the Director of the Center for Human-Centric Interfaces and Engineering (CHCIE) at the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a new brain-machine interface system that could significantly improve the quality of life for people with motor impairment. 

The research saw the conflux of wireless soft scalp electronics and virtual reality coupled in a brain-machine interface system, which, when implanted, will allow the user to wirelessly command prosthetic devices such as wheelchairs and robotic arms. 

The technology will benefit individuals with physical disabilities, such as paraplegia, cerebral palsy and other disorders that result in a loss of motor function. The BMI will aim to restore control among individuals suffering from more complex disorders that result in a locked-in syndrome (a neurological disorder characterised by the complete loss of function of the voluntary muscles) by providing a greater capability for movement and communication’. 

The proprietary BMI technology relies on a method called electroencephalography (EEG) for the acquisition of brain activity—a practice that requires the mounting of multiple rigid electrodes on the scalp of the subject to capture neural signals. Conventionally, this technique is arduous to set up, inconvenient for the user, expensive to execute and suffers from multiple flaws, such as material degradation.

“It is crucial that we have a diverse pipeline of HIV vaccine candidates that target both the antibody and T-cell arms of the immune system”, emphasized Dr Vincent Muturi-Kioi, the medical director at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. 

“HIVconsvX represents an exciting new hypothesis in engaging the killer T-cell arm to prevent HIV infection.”

The African trial will see 88 HIV-negative adults between ages 18 and 55 (considered to be at low risk of contracting the infection) receive the jab, followed by a booster dose at the end of four weeks.

Dr Walter Jaoko, director of KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research believes that the vaccine would provide a means of protection amongst those who are unable to safeguard themselves against the virus with preventive measures. 

“Preventive vaccines, especially those that provide durable protection against all major HIV subtypes, would be a powerful tool for people not able to access or use existing prevention options,” he said. 

As the world deals with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, there comes the moment of silver lining: the onset of genetic medicine and advancements in virology have ushered us into the new era of pharmacology—where research builds upon research, and innovation upon innovation, making the world safer for all. 

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