Paralyzed man walks unassisted using only brain control — no exoskeleton required

brain control only walking eeg recording cap
CreativeCommons
A 26-year-old man who has been paralyzed for five years was able to walk on his own again. How? By using his brain waves to directly control the muscles in his legs. The patient was able to walk a distance of approximately 12-feet using only a harness to help support his weight. No exoskeleton or other assistive device was required for this ambulation, which was published recently in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.

The brain-control system was created by a team of researchers at the University of California Irvine under the leadership of Dr. An Do, an assistant professor of neurology. The system required the patient to wear an electroencephalogram (EEG) cap that relayed electrical signals from the participant’s brain to electrodes attached to the muscles surrounding the knees. As the participant thought about walking, he produced brain waves strong enough to elicit a response in his legs.

paralyzed-walk-brain-UC-IrvineB

Prior to the experiment, the patient had to train his brain to control his legs by practicing with an avatar in a virtual reality environment. He also had to strengthen his leg muscles to support his weight and condition them for walking. During the post-training trials, the patent walked 3.66 meters using only a walker to maintain his balance and a harness to offset some of his weight.

Using the brain to control paralyzed limbs has been used previously and is an established procedure. In earlier experiments, researchers have used similar brain control systems to move limb prostheses and, more recently, restore walking with the aid of an exoskeleton. This experiment further refines the brain-control system, allowing a patient to operate his or her legs with little to no outside assistance. “We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury,” said Do. It follows a similar experiment by UCLA scientists in which a volunteer used brain control to power his leg muscles while using an exoskeleton for support.

Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Emerging Tech

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

Airbus announced this week that it will stop building the world's biggest passenger plane in 2021. The maker of the double-decker A380 said a changing market and lack of orders gave it little choice but to end production.
Emerging Tech

Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

A vape pen battery caused a fire in an overhead bin on a SkyWest Airlines flight on Wednesday. It's the latest in a string of incidents where faulty or poorly made lithium-ion batteries have caused gadgets to catch fire.
Product Review

Yuneec’s Mantis Q will make you wish you bought a DJI drone

Yuneec’s high-end drones are arguably the ones to beat in terms of flight control, design, and their photographic capabilities. But the company has struggled to make a low-end drone that’s worth buying, and the Mantis Q is proof of that…
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.