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 Paralysed man takes a walk in virtual world

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Date posted: 03/06/2008

In a moving tale showcasting the true power of brain-machine interfaces, a 41 year old Japanese man, paralysed with a progressive muscle disease, and not far off becoming a quadriplegic, has taken a stroll in second life.

The patient, who has suffered paralysis for more than 30 years, can barely bend his fingers due to a progressive muscle disease so cannot use a mouse or keyboard in the traditional way.

The brain interface used was a skull cap with just three electrodes. More than enough to control basic movement in an avatar system ? same as the arrow keys would on a keyboard. Naturally this was not enough to actually feel any aspect of the physical body, and Second Life is not advanced enough for that anyway.

However, this world first demonstrates that these interfaces have begun to move far enough along that interaction in VR, with just the mind, is no-longer a pipe dream.

Researchers are now studying a system that would let patients create text messages by mentally selecting certain letters, said Junichi Ushiba, associate professor at the biosciences and informatics department of Keio Universty's Faculty of Science and Technology.

"In the near future, they would be able to stroll through Second Life shopping malls with their brain waves... and click to make a purchase," Ushiba said.

See the full Story via external site: physorg.com

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