Communication & Control
The goal is to significantly increase people's communication potential and opportunities by providing access to a variety of devices such as virtual keyboards, internet, email, telephony, fax, SMS and environmental control.
BCI technology is dominated by deriving useful EEG control signals, while the interaction aspects have often received a lower priority. As a result, BCI systems are often clumsy and awkward, lacking the appeal and user experience we have grown used to in commercial products.
TOBI will devices more suitable and comfortable interfaces that will take into account the noise and dynamical properties of the BCI control signals. Also, interfaces will be multimodal (combining visual, auditory and haptic feedback) to upgrade the user's experience.
Finally, we will exploit fast recognition of cognitive mental states (such ass erroneous responses, levels of workload and stress) to shape interaction appropriately. ... More and Application Demos
For people with physical disabilities, the possibility to restore lost motor functions is a priority. These motor functions can be roughly classified as manipulation and mobility. Thus, we will work on the development of neuroprostheses for grasping and reaching, as well as of assistive mobility.
In the first case, an orthosis with integrated stimulation electrodes will be developed and will allow the operation of the hand (grasping) and the elbow (reaching).
In the second case, the user can mentally drive a telepresence enabled mobile robot, equipped with a camera and a screen, to join their relatives and friends located somewhere else and participate in their activities.
The goal is to explore the development of less immediately "functional" applications, which might actually prove to be very important to patients. This includes giving the patient control of ambient features such as wall display, lighting and music, which not only allows them to control their environment, but alos express their feelings to others in a non-verbal manner.
We will develop and evaluate techniques for photo browsing and selection, as well as for music navigation and selection, and investigate how best to couple BCI interfaces to modern social networking applications, such as Skype and Facebook.
We will develop BCI-games for pleasure and to train users in use of BCI. This will reopen the world of gaming to patients by designing simple, but motivating BCI-controlled games for single-users and interactive games for more than one user.
The games can be both strategic (and usually slower) games, and games for which quicker reactions and more fine-granular control are important, providing a way to train users for BCI use in an enjoyable manner.
Traditionally, BCI has been viewed as a technology primarily for people who have partially, or totally lost some functions. In a given sense, BCI is intented as a rehabilitation technology since it seeks to substitute some of the lost functions.
However, a BCI technology might also play a potential rehabilitation role in enhancing the motor function recovery which occurs after a cerebrovascular accident. Indeed, in current neuroscience-based rehabilitation aproaches it is recognized that beside the practice of passive and/or active residual movements, imaging a movements can be a way to access the motor system in absence of any "real" movements; this because the mental practice of motor actions can induce an activation of those sensorimotor networks affected by lesions.
Based on this, TOBI technology will introduce the mental practice of motor actions via BCI training, that might boost the clinical rehabilitation strategies and in turn, would lead to a better functional outcome.