For people with spinal injuries or other conditions that impair use of the arms or vocal cords — or for the curious who just think it’s cool — the intendiX spells words based on brain waves.
A skullcap along with a computer interface, the system is in development by Austrian company Guger Technologies. It was demonstrated at CeBIT, an annual worldwide digital industry event, held this year in Hanover, Germany, from March 1 to 5.
To pick up brain activity, the skullcap is covered in electroencephalographic (EEG) electrodes. Unfortunately, this early model requires that the user put gel between his and her head and the EEG electrodes to function properly (though a dry version is forthcoming). The wearer stares at a computer screen, which flashes highlights over different rows in a matrix of letters and symbols set up like a keyboard on the screen. Simply by paying attention to the desired letter for a few seconds, the program can determine what the user intended to pick.
According to Guger Technologies, most people become competent thought-communicators after 10 minutes of training on the system and are able to spell out five to 10 characters a minute.
Designed for use by the severely handicapped in the home or with caregivers, intendiX can do more than just write out a text message. The user can also make it read the message out loud in digitized prose, print the text, or send it in email or via another electronic messaging system — intendiX is Bluetooth-ready. The only ability needed to use the system, besides a few seconds of concentration, is eyesight.
It’s not yet publicly available, but I’m concentrating on S-O-O-N.
Photo credit: Guger Technologies