Mind Over Machine: UTS Researchers Create Mind-Controlled Devices

Abhinav Raj

Abhinav Raj, Writer

UTS researchers, in collaboration with the Australian Army and Defence Innovation Hub, have developed a biosensor that enables thought-controlled machines.  

Ever since the unveiling of Neuralink, brain-computer interfaces in the world of tech have garnered significant attention and investment from institutions, academics, and venture capitalists from all over the world.  

Taking mind-controlled technology a step further, researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney have developed a novel biosensor technology that could make telekinesis a reality. 

In collaboration with the Australian Army and Defence Innovation Hub, UTS researchers have pioneered a quantum leap in brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) by developing a way to transmit commands to external devices through brain waves. 

The BMI thus engineered consists of three key components, including an external sensory stimulus, a sensing interface, and a neural signal processing unit. 

The ‘external sensory stimulus’ is delivered to the user through an augmented reality (AR) lens (worn over the head) which displays an array of flickering squares. By concentrating on specific squares, the user transmits ‘brain-waves’—a type of electromagnetic wave generated by the human brain through the spontaneous firing of neurons. These waves are picked up and decoded through electrodes placed on the scalp of the user and transmitted as commands to the machine being operated. 

(image:Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels)

“The hands-free, voice-free technology works outside laboratory settings, anytime, anywhere. It makes interfaces such as consoles, keyboards, touchscreens and hand-gesture recognition redundant,” commented Francesca lacopi, the Professor of Electronics at the University of Technology Sydney.

“By using cutting edge graphene material, combined with silicon, we were able to overcome issues of corrosion, durability and skin contact resistance, to develop the wearable dry sensors.” 

The most recent demonstration of the BMI technology developed by the researchers was undertaken by the Australian Army, wherein officials successfully operated a quadruped robot (a special robot with four operable limbs) with stunning accuracy relying solely on their brainwaves. The brain-machine interface allowed the soldiers to operate the robotic dog hands-free, with up to 94% precision. 

Although currently being explored for military applications, the brain-machine interface developed by the researchers can have fascinating applications in the development of prosthetic devices—allowing people with disabilities to gain greater independence through newer, more robust and precise means of control over their devices—and their lives. 

What aspect of life do you think will brain-machine interfaces impact the most? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

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