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Brain signal-controlled robot

brain-computer interface (BCI)

Brain-computer interface

Inside the thingQbator space, employees take turns wearing a brain-computer interface (BCI) headset to control a robot ball on the ground. The headset picked up wearers’ emotions and used these feelings to control the direction of the ball. If a user smiled, the ball would move forward—frowning meant moving backwards and clenching up in anger meant stopping the ball in its tracks.

The rolling robot ball was a prototype created by the Brainiacs team, comprised of Strategy and Innovation Leader Rahul Singh, Sourcing and Supplier Manager Hemant Deshpande, and Business Systems Manager Meenakshi Narang.

The BCI headset works through the signals the brain gives off when making happy or sad faces. These signals are then sent to a special software application created by the team to understand the data, which then powers the movement of the robot.

Brain signal-controlled robot

“For our final demo, we are building an application that lets you type messages using eye movements and facial expressions”

A lot of the real innovation the Brainiacs team worked on is in the software–the tool that translates brain signals to movement in a bot. The team created and trained the algorithms to understand and interpret facial expressions like a smile or frown. They then integrated this with the bot.

“Hemant and I were thinking about how we can harness the power of the brain and use it to communicate with the Internet of Things,” said Singh, “We thought it would be neat to control a robot with just facial expression and thoughts.”

The thingQbator program allows teams like this to truly explore next-generation innovation. The name literally combines “Internet of Things” and “incubator”, and allows cohorts to use local makerspaces and its resources to innovate. thingQbator is comprised of two primary activities–community learning and prototyping cohorts. The learning aspect includes workshops, events, and speakers where attendees can network and learn about new technologies. thingQbator also requests cohorts to submit their prototype ideas in a certain space they want to explore. Cohort cycles run from ideation to prototyping to Demo Day, and repeat every six months.

Inspired by the success of the program, thingQbator is now expanding to universities in India, with the hope to accelerate IoT innovation in academic institutions. By doing this, the program encourages students to become entrepreneurs.

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