New brain-controlled computer trains people to stay alert

A small company in North Carolina has created a brain-controlled tool similar to electroencephalograms (EEGs) for training people to stay alert when involved in important tasks.

Controlling computers – or anything else -– with the brain has been done using EEGs but they require a skullcap on the head.

The system called BodyWave developed by Freer Logic (named for its founder and CEO Peter Freer) is not dissimilar to an ordinary EEG, except it works with sensors that can be put around an arm rather than the head.

While it is harder to pick up signals from further away form the head, Freer told Discovery News that the signal strength per se isn’t too much of a problem.

“You wouldn’t use this for clinical applications,” he said.

So this wouldn’t be any good for a scientist or doctor trying to get a picture of brain activity. But it is fine when trying to detect the activity, called beta waves, that indicates attention.

BodyWave can detect when someone is paying attention to something.

Freer noted that the system was used to train nuclear power plant workers as well as help understand the best way to design control systems.

Connected to a computer, BodyWave can tell when someone is paying attention and sound an alarm when they aren’t.

Something like this can also be used in cars -– for instance sounding an alarm if a drivers’ attention drifts.

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