Brain Machine Interface Controls a Robot with the Power of the Mind
I don’t know if you ever thought about this, but the way the brain can control the body is a very remarkable thing. I suppose that this is a complication robotics developers are facing when they are creating human-like robots. Just imagine how difficult it would be to create a robot that could be controlled by a thought.
Now imagine that this technology is being crafted today. The Honda Research Institute Japan Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Honda Research and Development Co. Ltd., Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International and Shimadzu Corporation have all worked together to create the Brain Machine Interface (BMI) which allows the user to control a robot with his or her brain.
The user has to wear this device that looks a beautyshop blow drier with its dome helmet that connects to what looks like a giant hard drive. Technologies that are based on electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) measure changes in the blood flow of the cerebrum. Simple electrical currents that occur in the normal human thought process stimulate the sensors. The end result is that whatsoever a user thinks will be transmitted into action by a robot body.
What better robot body than Asimo, Honda’s robot poster child for the past two decades. This technology has been under experiment for the past three years. In 2006, the two partner companies were using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners to create the Brain Machine Interface.
If you would like to see this BMI device in action, feel free to check out this Daily Motion video that I found about it. You might have to ignore the nice happy voice saying that it would be great to have automobiles with trunks that open with a thought, or heater that comes on when you feel cold. What is interesting is what this concept is at this stage.
Clearly, it is going to be a while before we have this technology, and we are definitely a long way from when this becomes headband-sized. You can’t help but wonder what type of society we would become if this technology was perfected. After all, do we want the type of technology where we sit around and use our thought-controlled robots to fulfill our every need?
Perhaps we could end up with a society with a race of robots who develop thoughts of their own, eventually get sick of doing things for us, and decide to rebel. This sort of sounds like the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica. Speaking of which, I hope you guys caught the series finale to it last week, because it was very, very good. Not only did it have one of the greatest space battles since Star Wars, but (spoiler alert) it ended with the idea that we, as Earthlings, are headed toward the society that we saw on all four seasons of Battlestar Gallactica.
Ah, BMI technology. Is it something that we need or something that we don’t? I will let you ad eventual history decide its importance.