Sitting stone still under a skull cap fitted with a couple dozen electrodes, Austrian scientist Peter Brunner stares at a laptop computer. Without so much as moving a nostril hair, he suddenly begins to compose a message — letter by letter — on a giant screen overhead.
Brunner and two colleagues from the state-financed Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York were demonstrating a “brain computer interface (BCI),” an astounding technology which digitalizes brain signals emitted as electrical impulses — picked up by the electrodes — to convey intent.
Without recourse to nerves or muscles, BCI “can provide communication and control to people who are totally paralyzed” and unable to unable to speak or move, explains researcher Theresa Sellers, also from Wadsworth.
In the story, they even talk about controlling a wheelchair with such an interface. According to one of the researchers, it’s possible today, but still a bit dangerous. The next step would be to use it to control movement.