Milestone in Mind Control

Bin He | Via University of Minnesota | July 15, 2010

Seated before a computer screen, Elissa Gutterman does what once seemed impossible: She guides a helicopter through virtual 3-D space by the force of her thoughts.

Watching her move the helicopter is fun, but biomedical engineering professor Bin He has a serious purpose in mind. He hopes that someday his work on brain-computer interfaces will give some control over their environment to people who have only their minds with which to communicate. Stroke and paralysis survivors are among the potential beneficiaries.

This is the first time, to He’s knowledge, anyone has demonstrated a system that allows a person to continuously move objects on a screen at will through 3-D space using noninvasive technology. And the system’s noninvasive character means it could have implications far beyond the hospital. It could possibly help people drive or navigate, or it may find a use in entertainment software.