Toyota technology allows brain waves to steer wheelchair

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Several news reports say the Toyota Motor Corp. announced to that that it has developed technology that enables a wheelchair to be steered by detecting brain waves, no words or muscle needed.

While the brain-wave technology is not new, past systems required several seconds to read brain waves, but the new technology requires only 125 milliseconds – or 125 thousandths of a seconds.

The person sitting in the wheelchair wears a cap that can read brain signals, which are relayed to a brain scan electroencephalograph, or EEG, on the electrically powered wheelchair, and then analyzed in a computer program.

The new system allows the person on the wheelchair to turn left or right and go forward, almost instantly, according to researchers.

Coming to a stop still requires more than a thought. The person in the wheelchair must puff up a cheek, which is picked up in a detector worn on the face.

Japanese rival Honda Motor Co. is also working on a system to connect the monitoring of brain waves with mechanical moves.