Researchers develop way for two people to simultaneously control a virtual aircraftAugust 14, 2013 0 Email article | Print article
All hail science, for in the future it might just make Pacific Rim a possibility. We might never live to see the day, but hey, at least some of us saw the movie, and that’s good enough. Here’s the thing, University of Essex working with associates in the United States, are working on a brain computer interface that allows for two people to simultaneously control a virtual aircraft, how exciting is this?
Allowing for two people to use their brain to control a virtual spacecraft is not cheap, so when we learn this is a £500,000 project, we were only surprised it wasn’t in the millions. The group behind the brain computer interface technology is working closely with NASA on this project, which is headed by Essex School of Computer Sciences and Electronic Engineering, Professor Riccardo Poli.
“Our close collaboration has been made possible via a large grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under their ‘global engagement’ scheme,” according to Professor Poli. “This was awarded in March last year to fund exchanges of and visits for personnel and students. Indeed, two of my PhD students are visiting JPL this month with sponsorship from the grant.”
To control the virtual aircraft with only their brain waves, these two individuals are required to wear special caps that are designed to monitor their brain signals. This is what allowed researchers to figure out that a single brain takes too much effort to get the job done, and therefore, concluded that two brains are better than one.
“By combining the signals from two people, the true signals from their brains are amplified because they are correlated, while the uncorrelated noise is reduced,” said Professor Poli. “This provides much cleaner signals for the complex machinery that is required to turn brain waves into control commands for the simulator.”
If the brain computer interface team and NASA continue to pump money into the project, we have no doubt in our minds what was considered science fiction, could truly become a possibility. We are all for this because when the aliens attack, we might just require a bunch of Pacific Rim like robots to repel them back to their doomed home world.