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Mechatronics
Update on Thought-Controlled Robots
11/27/2012

By focusing their attention on patterns created by flickering lights on a PC screen, which are associated with specific actions, users can control which actions they want a robot to perform, where the robot moves, and how it interacts with its environment.   (Source: CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory)
By focusing their attention on patterns created by flickering lights on a PC screen, which are associated with specific actions, users can control which actions they want a robot to perform, where the robot moves, and how it interacts with its environment.
(Source: CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Difficulties of mind control
Ann R. Thryft   12/5/2012 12:41:00 PM
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Jim_E, thanks for the link to that Wired article (and I agree about print editions: Rolling Stone in the hand is very different from Rolling Stone on line, e.g.). But trying to control the incredibly complex movements of a hand and its fingers has got to be a few orders of magnitude more complicated than controlling legs enough to make them walk. So I'm not surprised there's been little progress in that area.

Ann R. Thryft
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Ann R. Thryft   12/3/2012 11:54:59 AM
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Chuck, I wish we had more info on the project's engineering details, which are still under development. Considering how much work has already been done aimed at similar goals, such as various methods of motion capture, I suspect it won't take all that long to write the algorithms. Battar, thanks for the response on this subject, too. FWIW, Fujitsu started working on turning the electrical impulses from a person's thoughts into electronically controlled actions back in the late 80s to early 90s.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Difficulties of mind control
Jack Rupert, PE   11/29/2012 9:46:29 PM
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Interesting link, Jim_E.  Thanks for posting. I would think that the "bionic limb" idea would actually be easier since they are trying the use the biological processes already in place to do essentially what they were designed to do - think about moving your hand that used to be at the end of your arm and the new hand at the end of your arm moves as the original once did.  The process of separate robots seems like a whole other ballgame.

Jim_E
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Difficulties of mind control
Jim_E   11/29/2012 8:38:04 AM
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I was just reading this article in Wired ( the real paper magazine, which I prefer ) about the difficulties of controlling prosthectics via mind control.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/ff_prosthetics

I certainly hope that they can make progress in this field, as it would improve the quality of life of many people.

 

Charles Murray
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Charles Murray   11/28/2012 6:16:31 PM
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Thanks, Battar. What you say makes sense. I still have to admit, though, I find it stunning that a software algorithm can read the electrical activities of the brain and translate it into anything.

Ann R. Thryft
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Ann R. Thryft   11/28/2012 11:33:21 AM
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Greg, the elderly could certainly benefit if they're among either target group, such as people confined to bed or wheelchairs. Since the technology is still being developed, most of the current learning curve is occurring among experimenters as they learn what thoughts produce what actions. Ideally, there won't be much for users.

Rob Spiegel
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Rob Spiegel   11/28/2012 10:42:25 AM
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That's funny, Battar. Would the machine read our subliminal thoughts? That could bring along a whole new way of living.

Battar
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Battar   11/28/2012 9:26:16 AM
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Rob,

        There is a downside to using thought to control robotic actions.

"Must - stop - thinking - about - kicking - the - boss - in - the - nuts ..."

Dilbert and Wally would have a field day with this.

Can you imagine the subsequent lawsuits? "I didn't push him under the truck.. I was just thinking about the insurance money..." 

Battar
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Battar   11/28/2012 9:21:47 AM
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Charles,

             The algorithms are far simpler than you think because you have a "man-in-the-loop" who can unconciously compensate for fairly large errors. For example, given 2 systems which react with a 30 degree difference in angular movement for the same input - well with one you'll just push a little harder until you get the desired result. You wouldn't even notice it. With fully automated autonomous systems, output must match input exactly or there will be trouble.

Rob Spiegel
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Rob Spiegel   11/27/2012 9:57:35 PM
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This technology could take prosthetics to a new level for users. While it may be awkward now, I would guess this technology will be refined in coming years.

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