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> Far Shores News Story: Canadian University Developing 'Mind Reading' Device
Original Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 18:42:46 -0400 (EDT)
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>>>>>> FarShores News
Posted Sep 28.01
Canadian University Developing 'Mind Reading' Device
[Original headline: 'Mind-reading' machine to help disabled]
VANCOUVER (CP) -- A mind-reading device being developed by a
University of Victoria biologist and a team of 40 other volunteers
could allow severely disabled people to communicate more effectively.
"We have a sense deep down that this is going to work whereas six
months ago it was a hope," said Nigel Livingston.
The device, called a Cyberlink, is being developed to pick up brain
signals from disabled people who can't speak and must instead use
tedious means to communicate with others.
The Cyberlink will look like a headband. People wearing it will have
electrodes placed on their head to pick up brain signals.
Livingston said test subjects have already shown that people can
control their brain signals depending on what they're thinking about.
To communicate a message, disabled people would generate varying
brain frequencies for a certain letter of the alphabet to form words,
much like Morse code.
Signals would be sent into a computer attached to the Cyberlink. The
researchers hope that eventually, a voice synthesizer will be used to
translate the information into electronic speech.
The science-fiction-like work has been dubbed the Claire Project
after Claire Minkley, an exceptionally bright Grade 12 student who
has a genetic condition similar to cerebral palsy.
Claire, 17, currently communicates using her eyes -- looking to the
right or left -- and pointing to groups of letters on a letter board.
The process requires help from her parents or an aide and is
extremely tiring because it yields only about 20 words an hour, said
John Minkley, Claire's father.
Communication is slowed down further because involuntary muscle
spasms interfere with Claire's attempts to get her message across, he
Despite requiring a wheelchair and being unable to speak or write
because she has poor muscle control, Claire is a straight-A student
who wants to study physics and math in university.
"We're very excited about the project because Claire's success at
university really depends on developing a better communication system
than she has at present," Minkley said.
Livingston said the goal is to train Claire and others to control
their brain wave patterns, much like fully functional people can
control movements by using their muscles.
Livingston said Claire's ability to solve complicated problems in her
head and memorize pages of information means she has tremendous
control over some brain processes.
"We're very confident that she'll be able to go beyond that in terms
of generating coherent brain signals," he said.
The research project involves the University of Victoria Assistive
Technology Team, a group that includes electrical engineers,
physiologists, psychologists, machinists and neuroscientists.
Undergraduate and graduate students are also volunteering by
The device being developed by Livingston's team is modelled on one
used by U.S. air force pilots who must perform several tasks while
flying a plane.
Story originally published by:
CNews | Camille Bains - Sep 27.01
All Copyrights co are acknowledged.
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