New Scientist - 2.1.13 by Paul MarksTURNS out two heads really are better than one. Two people have successfully steered a virtual spacecraft by combining the power of their thoughts - and their efforts were far more accurate than one person acting alone. One day groups of people hooked up to brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) might work together to control complex robotic and telepresence systems, maybe even in space.
A BCI system records the brain's electrical activity using EEG signals, which are detected with electrodes attached to the scalp. Machine-learning software learns to recognise the patterns generated by each user as they think of a certain concept, such as "left" or "right". BCIs have helped people with disabilities to steer a wheelchair, for example.
Researchers are discovering, however, that they get better results in some tasks by combining the signals from multiple BCI users. Until now, this "collaborative BCI" technique has been used in simple pattern-recognition tasks, but a team at the University of Essex in the UK wanted to test it more rigorously.
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