Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) allow severely disabled people to control wheelchairs, robotic arms, and of course computers. While much progress has been achieved toward improving the accuracy and precision of these devices, they have required long periods of tedious training for users to get acquainted with the technology. The computer has to be taught to understand each user’s unique electrical activity patterns that code for desired movement that the person wants to perform.
Now a team of researchers has come up with something incredible and unexpected – a way of “calibrating” a BCI so that a new user is able to start reliably using it in a matter of seconds. In a newly published study in Journal of Neural Engineering, a 63-year-old man was able to move a cursor on a screen towards targets less than a minute after calibration.