Neuroscience is a fascinating area of study! You discover what your mind is capable of and it also changes the way you think. Everyone dreamt at least once to be able and control their environment with just their mind. Devices like the EPOC+ from Emotiv make this a reality.
When I was part of Sheffield Robotics we wanted to test the possibilities of such a device in something that we cared about, Kilobots! Is it possible to control a swarm of robots with brain activity? So here is the question “Is it possible to control a swarm of robots with brain signals? “. The answer? Yes! At least in theory. The reality was a bit more complicated, and we discovered that 6 months with no previous knowledge on brain activity was too little for that task. We didn’t give up easily though and we managed to have some impressive results.
At the end of the 6 months, we were able to control a group of Kilobot robots using 3 different types of brain activity. We discovered that thoughts are not the only thing that produces brain activity!
Every person thinks differently and that’s why it was much harder to detect such activity, while facial expressions and eye movement trigger approximately the same areas of the brain in most people. So using these methods, we were able to control up to 3-4 commands at the same time, while using the visualization of an action about 2-3 commands.
In order to control the robots, we had to use both Windows and Linux systems because the Linux version of the software, that was provided from Emotiv, was crushing. So, we were using the Windows machine to train the software to recognize the user and then we were sending all that data through a UDP port to the Ubuntu machine to categorize them and execute the right command to the Kilobots.