Real-life Avatar

Mind-controlled Robots

What was once science fiction is becoming a reality faster than you might have thought.

We are one step closer to creating real-life avatars thanks to the work of internationally-supported applied presence and applied cognitive neuroscience research. Just ask Tirosh Shapira who recently (over the summer), from a laboratory in Israel, commanded a humanoid robot in a French laboratory to walk and pick up objects simply by imagining that he himself was walking and picking up objects. In this amazing experiment, researchers at Bar-llan University used an fMRI of Shapira's brain to control the robots movements at Béziers Technology Institute in France. When Shapira imagined himself walking, his fMRI was converted to an algorithm established by the research team; other algorithms were created from Shapira's thoughts to distinguish between walking and moving other parts of his body in different ways. A camera over the robot's head allowed Shapira to see the robot's environment so he could direct his thoughts specifically to the relationship of the 'avatar' to objects in it. Shapira's thoughts were communicated to the bot by computer, so that when Shapira imagined himself walking, the bot walked. When he imagined himself lifting an object to his left or right side, the robot would turn 30 degrees to the left or right and move its corresponding arm.

 

The goal is to create surrogates that work just like those in the movie Avatar to be used in rehabilitation and training of those that are physically restricted to a bed or wheelchair.

 

Kemo D. 7

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