The BSI-Toyota Collaboration Center (BTCC), Tokyo, has developed an ultrafast system that controls a wheelchair using brain waves, with response taking as little as 125 milliseconds. The system includes control units, a cap of non-implanted electrodes, and a real-time display that gives neuro-feedback to the driver. BTCC is a collaborative project among Toyota Motor Corporation, Tokyo, Japan; Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories, Aichi, Japan; and the Genesis Research Institute, Aichi.
BTCC’s new system fuses two technologies-blind signal separation (BSS) and space-time-frequency filtering-to allow faster brain-wave analysis than the several seconds required by conventional methods. BSS separates signal “noise” from useful electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. Space-time-frequency filtering extracts space and time patterns and frequency-oscillation data from electrodes to determine the meaning of the EEG signals and reliably control the chair.
According to BTCC, the system can adjust itself to the characteristics of individual wheelchair drivers and improve its own efficiency in sensing a drivers’ commands. The new system has an accuracy rate of 95 percent, one of the highest in the world of brain-signal controls.
BTCC states that it has plans underway to utilize this technology in a wide range of applications centered on medicine and nursing-care management. It is considering research to increase the number of commands that the system can read and research to develop more efficient dry electrodes. So far, the research has centered on brain waves related to imaginary hand and foot control. However, the system may be applied to other types of brain waves generated by various mental states and emotions.