From the archive, originally posted by: [ dot.ike ]

Finally, we may be getting closer to ditching our cumbersome,
unhealthy, and even politically warped human interfaces to the
computer, (if we can only make wearable computing more fashionable).

Step 1) Replace the Keyboard
– suggestion, just read raw brain waves

Step 2) Replace the Monitor
– suggestion, heads-up displays

Dvorak that.

Teen Plays Videogame With Brain Signals

(slashdotted, here:

Hands off

By Tony Fitzpatrick
Oct. 9, 2006 — Teenage boys and computer games go hand-in-hand.
Now, a St. Louis-area teenage boy and a computer game have gone hands-
off, thanks to a unique experiment conducted by a team of
neurosurgeons, neurologists, and engineers at Washington University
in St. Louis.

The boy, a 14-year-old who suffers from epilepsy, is the first
teenager to play a two-dimensional video game, Space Invaders, using
only the signals from his brain to make movements.

Getting subjects to move objects using only their brains has
implications toward someday building biomedical devices that can
control artificial limbs, for instance, enabling the disabled to move
a prosthetic arm or leg by thinking about it.

Many gamers think fondly of Atari’s Space Invaders, one of the most
popular breakthrough video games of the late ’70s. The player
controls the motions of a movable laser cannon that moves back and
forth across the bottom of the video screen. Row upon row of video
aliens march back and forth across the screen, slowly coming down
from the top to the bottom of the screen. The objective is to prevent
any one of the aliens from landing on the bottom of the screen, which
ends the game. The player has an unlimited ammunition supply.

The aliens can shoot back at the player, who has to evade, moving
left and right. There are lots of levels of play, reflecting the
speed at which the aliens descend. The Washington University subject
mastered the first two levels of play, using just his imagination.

Here’s how:

The teenager had a grid atop his brain to record brain surface
signals, a brain-machine interface technique that uses
electrocorticographic (ECoG) activity – data taken invasively right
from the brain surface. It is an alternative to a frequently used
technique to study humans called electroencephalographic activity
(EEG) – data taken non-invasively by electrodes outside the brain on
the scalp. Engineers programmed the Atari software to interface with
the brain-machine interface system.

Eric C. Leuthardt, M.D., an assistant professor of neurological
surgery at the School of Medicine, and Daniel Moran, Ph.D., assistant
professor of biomedical engineering, performed their research on the
boy who had the grids implanted so that neurologists and
neurosurgeons can find the area in the brain serving as the focus for
an epileptic seizure, with hopes of removing it to avoid future
seizures. To do this, the boy and his doctors, Dr Mathew Smyth and Dr
John Zempel, had to wait for a seizure.

Usin’ the noggin

With approval of the patient and his parents and the Washington
University School of Medicine Institutional Review Board, Leuthardt
and Moran connected the patient to a sophisticated computer running a
special program known as BCI2000 (developed by their collaborator
Gerwin Schalk at the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of
Health in Albany) which involves a video game that is linked to the
ECoG grid. They then asked the boy to do various motor and speech
tasks, moving his hands various ways, talking, and imagining. The
team could see from the data which parts of the brain and what brain
signals correlate to these movements. They then asked the boy to play
a simple, two-dimensional Space Invaders game by actually moving his
tongue and hand. He was then asked to imagine the same movements, but
not to actually perform them with his hands or tongue. When he saw
the cursor in the video game, he then controlled it with his brain.

“He cleared out the whole level one basically on brain control,” said
Leuthardt. “He learned almost instantaneously. We then gave him a
more challenging version in two-dimensions and he mastered two levels
there playing only with his imagination.”

In 2004, Leuthardt and Moran led a team who were the first to perform
this research on four adult patients. They were anxious to get data
from a teenager to see if there are any differences between how teens
and adults operate.

“It’s exciting to be able to look at age differences and see what
that tells us about the brain,” said Moran, who said the team plans
to test more pediatric subjects. “No one has ever seen if brain
signals from children are different. We’ll try to determine if
teenagers have different frequency distributions when their cortex
becomes active. We might question if the frequency alterations are
different, will that make a difference in performance?”

Leuthardt said it is too early to make comparisons between adults and
teenagers because they have only one set of teenage data.

“But we observed much quicker reaction times in the boy and he had a
higher level of detail of control – for instance, he wasn’t moving
just left and right, but just a little bit left, a little bit right,”
he said.


Graduate students in the Washington University School of Engineering
and Applied Science played major roles in the accomplishment. Nick
Anderson, a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, came up with the
idea of using the Space Invaders game to both help the patients pass
the time away and garner some very useful, pioneering data. Computer
science and engineering master’s degree candidate Tim Blakely pulled
several all-nighters to program the game into the ECoG system. “Doing
this is a win-win situation , both for science and the child,”
Leuthardt said. “We devised this to be enjoyable and entertaining
while we get groundbreaking information on the brain.”

The clinical team also played a significant role in the planning and
orchestration of this research. It was of critical importance that
these experiments be safe and not interfere with clinical care. The
clinical pediatric portion of the team was led by Mathew Smyth, MD,
assistant professor of neurosurgery, and John Zempel, M.D., Ph.D.,
associate professor of neurology. “This really was a symphony of
expertise ranging from neurosurgery, neurology, neuroscience,
engineering, and computer science which was years in the making. The
end result is something we can really be proud of,” Leuthardt said.

Steve Mann

Jeff Raskin

Brilliant explorations of body/machine augmentation, yet undoubtedly
belonging to Vice magazine’s “Don’t” section.

Heads Up Displays

HUD (computer gaming)

Head-Up Display (relatively wide-scale real deployment)

Wearable Computing