The Future is Here. It’s BMI.
Asimo’s at it again! This wily robot is on the cutting edge of B.M.I., short for Brain Machine Interface., and can be seen above doing a jolly little jig after the successful interfpretation of a man’s thoughts into action. Yes, that’s right, folks! Great strides have been taken in the interdisciplinary study of human thought and robotic commands, because this year the Honda Research Institute, in coordination with Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation, have announced an overwhelming 90% accuracy rate in their application of Brain Machine Interface, the most successful in all the world and quite impressive by itself. But get this: the accuracy rate stated above has been acheived using subjects who have not undergone special training! Wowee!
“Honda Research Institute Japan Co., Ltd. (HRI-JP), a subsidiary of Honda R&D Co., Ltd., Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation have collaboratively developed the world’s first*1 Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology that uses electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with newly developed information extraction technology to enable control of a robot by human thought alone. It does not require any physical movement such as pressing buttons. This technology will be further developed for the application to human-friendly products in the future by integrating it with intelligent technologies and/or robotic technologies.
During the human thought process, slight electrical current and blood flow change occur in the brain. The most important factor in the development of the BMI technology is the accuracy of measuring and analyzing these changes. The newly developed BMI technology uses EEG, which measures changes in electrical potential on the scalp, and NIRS, which measures changes in cerebral blood flow, with a newly developed information extraction technology which enables statistical processing of the complex information from these two types of sensors. As a result, it became possible to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion, but just human thought alone.
The BMI technology announced by HRI-JP and ATR in 2006 used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to measure brain activities. The large size and powerful magnetic field generated by the fMRI scanner limited the locations and conditions where it can be used. As the newly developed measuring device uses EEG and NIRS sensors, it can be transported to and used in various locations.” source
The original MRI scanner project can be seen in the video above, and is explained in greater detail here.
It may only be in the Honda labs at this time, but the idea that future robots will be in our homes, reading our minds and doing our mental bidding… well, let me just say that I cannot imagine this will result only in a gaggle of Asimos dusting the mantle and watering the plants. Rather, I see a craving for brownies suddenly being met by the sound of a blender, and a casual hatred of the music one’s neighbor is playing loudly turning into an awkward situation wherein one suddenly needs to restrain a robot helper from knocking down said neighbor’s door. Or, not. Better start curbing those brownie cravings now… my neighbor, however, can deal.