Researchers Demo New Robot-Human Interface - InformationWeek

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Researchers Demo New Robot-Human Interface

A new interface allows near real-time operation of a robot without invasive incisions to the head and brain. The breakthrough, demonstrated this week in Tokyo, opens up possibilities for new interactions between machines and people.

Researchers have developed a new "Brain Machine Interface" that allows robots to decode and act on brain activity in humans.

Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Honda Research Institute Japan Co. announced that they developed the BMI so data can be extracted for near real-time operation of a robot without invasive incisions into the head and brain. The breakthrough, demonstrated this week in Tokyo, opens up possibilities for new interfaces between machines and people.

The technology is based on an article called "Decoding the perceptual and subjective contents of the human brain," published by Dr. Yukiyasu Kamitani, a researcher at ATR, in Nature Neuroscience. Dr. Kamitani and his collaborator Dr. Frank Tong were named among 50 Research Leaders in Scientific American.

HRI and ATR took it a step further by developing the theory into a system for robotic control. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine tracks hemodynamic responses and maps brain activity of a subject moving his or her fingers. A computer program extracts and decodes the specific signals generating the hand movements and transfers the information to a hand-shaped robot, which then simulates the movement within seconds. Researchers reported an 85 percent accuracy rate.

Eventually, the technology could be used for typing, assisting people with disabilities and improving car safety.

Honda recently announced other robotics developments to ASIMO, its walking, child-sized robot. ASIMO can hold hands, greet and guide visitors and run errands. The humanoid robot is a big hit with children and has appeared on England's popular children's television show Blue Peter.

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