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Hybrid Brain-Computer Interfaces

April 18, 2011

New research lets people with severe disabilities rapidly switch between different communication and assistive devices.



Controlling machines with the mind. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Using brainwaves to control computers, wheelchairs, and home appliances may sound futuristic, but brain computer interfaces, or BCIs, are already in use. They help people with severe muscular or neural disabilities communicate and complete a variety of tasks. But according to biomedical engineer Gernot Mueller-Putz at Graz University of Technology in Austria, like other assistive technologies, using BCIs all day can be tiring. That’s why he and his colleagues are working on hybrid BCIs, that allow users to combine a variety of assistive devices.

GERNOT MUELLER-PUTZ (Graz University of Technology):

For example, a joystick or a push-button or a mouth mouse or an eye-tracking system.


As one technique becomes tiring, the patient could quickly switch to another. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.