Hand-Exoskeleton Moves With Enhanced Brainwave Control
EPFL scientists are developing a lightweight and portable hand exoskeleton that can be controlled with brainwaves. The device enhances performance of brain-machine interfaces and can restore functional grasps for the physically impaired. Metal cables act as soft tendons along the back-side of each finger, leaving the palm free in order to maximize sensations felt by the hand. A chest-pack contains motors that can push and pull on the different cables, flexing the fingers when the cables are pushed and extending them when pulled. The scientists pursued brainwave-control of the exoskeleton via an EEG headset that measures the users' brainwaves as they used the exoskeleton. They found that the hand motions induced by the device elicit brain patterns typical of healthy hand motions. But they also discovered that exoskeleton-induced hand motions combined with a user-driven brain-machine interface lead to peculiar brain patterns. The scientists believe that the brain activity emerging from the combination of voluntary control and coherent feedback provided by the device could be exploited for improving brain control of these devices.