VSL:SCIENCE // Moving one step closer to mind control

Scientists at Spain’s University of Zaragoza have developed a wheelchair that’s controlled entirely by the user’s brain waves.

The chair uses a network of onboard lasers to generate a 3-D map of its surroundings. That map appears on a monitor at the front of the chair; when the user looks at it and focuses on a specific location, 16 electrodes translate the corresponding shifts in brain activity into electrical signals that power the chair. Test subjects learned to navigate around an obstacle course with less than an hour’s worth of training. Much work remains to be done (nobody wants to wear a bunch of electrodes on his head), but the technology could be a godsend for the fully paralyzed.

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