Now, researchers have put the two together. New Scientist reports Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, combined the two technologies in an effort to give immobile patients more independent abilities. Here’s how it works:
The quadcopter’s range of motion is limited by the brain activity that the EEG can pick up. A user can move the flyer forward by thinking “right”, fly up by thinking “push”, and turn clockwise by thinking “left”. Thinking “left hard” tells the quadcopter to take off from the ground. Clenched teeth and blinking both produce a brain signal that the EEG can read, commanding the flyer to descend or to take a picture using the on-board camera, respectively. By default, that camera sends a stream of video back to the laptop, and the user can capture a still of any scene they choose by blinking four times.
The prototype “Flying Buddy 2” uses an Emotiv EEG headset, which as Popular Science points out, is not an expensive piece of mind-reading equipment. This same type of headset was recently featured by other researchers to show its ability to potentially allow for hackers to use “brain spyware.”
Watch the mind-controlled quadcopter in action (Bonus: The researchers use it to play a “boxing game” using hand control vs. mind control):