Tokyo, Japan – Researchers at Toyota have developed a new signal processing technology that analyzes brain waves and uses the signal to operate a wheelchair.

The BSI-Toyota Collaboration Center has developed a system for brain machine interface (BMI) that allows a user to make smooth turns and forward motion of the wheelchair via the brain wave analysis data. The technology is expected to be used in rehabilitation, and for physical and psychological support of wheelchair drivers. The information from the brain wave analysis is displayed on a screen in real time, giving feedback to the driver for efficient operation.

The system uses one of the fastest technologies in the world, controlling the wheelchair using brain waves in as little as 125 milliseconds, as compared to several seconds required by conventional methods. Such BMI technology would allow elderly or handicapped people to interact with the world through signals from their brains, without having to give voice commands.

The system has the capacity to adjust itself to the characteristics of individual drivers, and is able to improve the efficiency with which it senses the driver’s commands. An accuracy rate of 95 per cent was achieved in having drivers correctly give commands to their wheelchairs.

Plans are underway to use the technology in a wide range of applications, primarily on medicine and nursing care management. Continuing research will focus on increasing the number of commands given, and on developing more efficient dry electrodes.

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