A pair of robotic legs controlled solely by the user's mind have been successfully demonstrated by Researchers at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Centre and the University of California. This brings new potential to the future of prosthetic limbs for paraplegic people.
These findings are presented in a paper they posted on arXiv, where they write about how this device is operated via a cap that measures the EEG signals from the brain, translating them into movement. In its current state, the system is only capable of two options: "idling" and "walking." But as the paper continues, future developments could allow for further improvements to incorporate all the nuances of leg movement: changing speed and direction, sitting down, standing up, anything is possible.
The test subjects mastered the control of this in just 10 minutes (with 5 hours practice on a virtual system); but a key issue to take into account is the so-called "false alarms:" the number of wrongly interpreted brain signals that put the user at the risk of serious injury (waiting to cross the road for example).
By the end of the experiment, the system was claimed to have a 100% response rate with none of these false alarms; but that doesn't put them in the clear on this, as the future is now going to be continued testing with paralyzed subjects.
Regardless of this, the demonstration is a true testament to the enriching of people's lives with science and technology - moving the existing field of research forward considerably.
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