Innovative technology allows robotic movement with mind control

May 23, 2012

Cathy Hutchinson from Massachusetts successfully controlled a robot arm using, get this, only her MIND.  She has been paralyzed for over 15 years now and was able to control the robot arm to pick up her coffee and bring it to her mouth to take a sip.

This innovative technology has been the topic of similar stories this past year, including a quadriplegic who was able to give a high five with the use of a robot arm, controlling it with only his mind.

The testing and research continues with hopes to make life easier for people who are paralyzed.  One study done by multiple scientists from Brown University and Harvard University successfully used a robot arm to squeeze a foam ball by only using the mind.

The science behind the technology comes from a small sensor about the size of a pea that is implanted into the person's brain.  The sensor connects to the electric activity from a few brain cells and sends that to a computer controlling the movement of the robot arm.

The computer is able to understand this activity and interpret what it means due to repeating patterns from volunteering participants. They are simply "training" the chip.

In Cathy's case, the chip used to successfully raise the coffee to her mouth has been working for over 5 years, and her brain was still creating useful signals even though she hasn't moved either of her arms in over 15 years.

Hopefully with enough research and testing, scientists will be able to get it just right.  I forsee this chip costing a lot of money so I am guessing it will not be affordable for everyone, but just like all new technology, something better, smaller and cheaper comes out as time goes by.

Is this a real-life Robo-Cop, or Iron Man story here? They might not be fighting crime just yet, but this is a huge advancement in technology.

If you are thinking what I am thinking, this sounds kind of scary. But the fact that it is being used to help the unfortunate is a beautiful thing.

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