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Brain Speller: turning thoughts into words

Brain Speller: turning thoughts into words

Inventors to represent Australia at Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011 finals

The local awards presented for the Brain Speller

The local awards presented for the Brain Speller

UCEGG, a team of four students, from the University of Canberra has designed a product that translates people’s thoughts into text.

The competition-winning Brain Speller is a new home-grown innovation that aims to aid people with decreased physical functions, such as dementia, paralysis or brain damage, to communicate.

It uses electrode sensors on a headset to register brain signals that are activated when the operator blinks or looks to the left or right onto a portable computer.

This allows for specific characters to be chosen to create text.

The team also connected a remote control car to the device, which opens up the possibility for larger mobility apparatus – like wheelchairs – to be controlled via the device in future.

Team leader, Paul Du, said research showing vast disability statistics in Australia and the abundance of overly specialised solutions led it to develop a more generic device that people with severe physical disabilities require.

“Two of my team mates previously did research in that area, which gave us a head start in what we wanted to do for the innovation. We then incorporated the technology of a commercial gaming device, the Emotiv Epoc headset, with our idea to create the product,” he said.

Du said the affordable and easy to use solution took just three to four months to develop but the team plans to expand it.

UCEGG intends to apply a Web-based functionality to it that enables the operator to interact on the Web and operate applications such as instant messaging.

“We are still thinking about how to go about doing it; there is still a lot of work and research to be done before we can carry it out,” Du said.

The team plans to work with technology companies to combine the Brain Speller with everyday technologies and to collaborate with the Australian government to standardise compatibility.

The team beat four other project groups to win the national final of Microsoft's Imagine Cup and will present the Brain Speller at the Imagine Cup 2011 world finals held in New York, July 8-13.

The winning team will be take away $US25,000 to put towards its system.


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Tags instant messagingparalysisinnovationdementiaBrain SpellerMicrosoftbrain damageImagine CupinventionUCEGG

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