It sounds like something from science fiction, being able to control a device through thought alone.
However, a prototype wheelchair manoeuvred by human thought is very much science fact and was invented by a father and son research team from Australia. For the magic to happen, the user must first be fitted with a headband that reads brainwaves. The chair is then operated when the user thinks certain thoughts and blinks.
A camera helps the device to navigate obstacles and if stuck in a crowd, the chair’s own robotic brain takes over, but only for a limited time.
Researchers are confident this technology will have a huge psychological impact to people unable to walk and what’s more, this smart chair is simpler to use and less expensive than the similar creations being developed in other countries.
The smart chair has been already tested on 20 people with positive results. The next step for the father and son team is to get funding for a clinical trial where 100, severely disabled people will test it out. Then if all goes to plan, the smart chair could be commercially available in just one to five years.
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