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Technology: Jan Takes Sweet ‘Megabytes’ of Chocolate Thanks to BCI (Video)

‘One small nibble for woman. One giant bite for BCI.’

Thanks to BCI (brain-computer interface) technology, Jan Scheuermann grasps a chocolate bar, raises it to her mouth to her mouth, takes a bite, and speaks those words in the video clip above. This is a triumph for Jan, a woman who was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration but has now demonstrated ability to feed herself once again through the help of a mind-controlled robot arm. This was all made possible by the work of researchers like Andrew Schwartz.


‘It was also a triumph for Andrew Schwartz, a neurophysiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, who’s spent three decades mapping the connections between the brain and the body… Schwartz was part of a Johns Hopkins University research team that found the brain was actually expressing an intentional behavior, like turning a doorknob, that he could read in the neuron’s electrical signals… With that understanding, Schwartz’s team developed a prosthesis that could mimic complex motions. They implanted electrical sensors into Scheuermann’s brain—192 needles 1/15 of an inch long. These transmit information to software they developed to translate her thoughts into the motion of an arm that moves in three dimensions, with a wrist that turns and bends and fingers that clasp. By the second day, she could give Schwartz a high-five. In 13 weeks, Scheuermann had a degree of control that the scientist had expected would take a year to master.’

– Businessweek


Amazing! While this BCI tech is not yet ready for the market, you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty damn cool.


Jan and BCI take a bite - sweet

Read “Andrew Schwartz: Brain Control for Artificial Limbs” in Businessweek.

Andrew Schwartz

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