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University of Buffalo Researchers Use Headsets to Control Robot Arms with Their Minds

Will this be considered some kind of war crime when the machines take over?

This is not the first time that science has given the mind control over robotic arms, but now it can be done with a headset that anyone can slip on, instead of a Matrix-style mind-jack. Now can we just get a full suit of Iron Man armor to control with this thing?

Previous mind-control robot arms at this level of precision have been extremely cost prohibitive, not to mention kind of scary, due to the fact that they require a direct interface with the brain. The level of accuracy in this new, external BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) headset is a step towards making it a reality for businesses and consumers.

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So, it looks like robots may not be stealing all of our jobs too soon. If the research team at University of Buffalo has their way, we may instead work together with human minds controlling robot workers, which actually sounds pretty fun. It also sounds way more fun than robot minds controlling human workers. Of course, the difficulty with the external mind-reading headsets is that it’s harder to build one as accurate as a direct link with the brain.

Making an accurate, external BCI headset is an important part of bringing the technology to the masses due to the prohibitive expense and general danger of brain surgery. We’re really excited to see the research progress to bring us headsets as accurate as the direct solutions currently being developed for the disabled.

For example, a paraplegic woman with a BCI hooked up to her brain directly is able to control her robotic arm, “Hector,” without even thinking in terms of commands anymore. After first thinking in terms of giving it explicit directions, she got so used to it that it became second nature.

Seriously, that’s amazing. She’s moving it just by thinking. It’s like a super power. We can’t wait until the external headsets catch up so we can all be robot psychics.

(via, image via UB VRlab on YouTube)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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