In a typical brain-computer interface (BCI) set-up, users can send one of three commands—left, right, or no-command.
However, no-command is very taxing to maintain and requires extreme concentration, leaving the user tired in just an hour.
Jose del R Millan and his team at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne hooked volunteers up to BCI and ask them to read, speak, or read aloud while delivering as many left and right commands as possible or delivering a no-command. The new BCI learns to read the subject’s mental intention so that now users can mentally relax and also execute secondary tasks while controlling the BCI.
However, the so-called Shared Control approach isn’t enough to let an operator to rest or concentrate on more than one command at once, limiting long-term use.
Although it will take time to put to commercial use, Millan’s prototypes are the first working models of their kind to use probability theory to make BCIs easier to use over time.
His next step is to combine this new level of sophistication with Shared Control in an ongoing effort to take BCI to the next level, necessary for widespread use.