The evolution of research around brain activity has led scientists to a new invention. They managed to create a wearable conductive gel that sticks on the skin without irritating it and that allows to track and collect brain signals.
These wearable electrodes stick onto and near the ear like a temporary tattoo and can be used for more than 2 weeks without being damaged by normal activity.
This invention could allow a better collection and analysis of brain waves and be the beginning of better prosthetics and interfaces for people with disabilities by being able to control devices with your brain.
Before this, brain signals were analysed using Electroencephalograms with electrodes stuck onto the head with conductive gel. This technique only allowed short-term collection as the gel would deteriorate and the electrodes would have to be changed.
This new method proved to be working for more than 14 days despite showering and exercising. It consists of a flexible collection of gold electrodes on a soft plastic film and sticks to the skin using electric forces better known as van der Walls interaction.
To record the brain activity, the sensors were connected to a monitoring device using stretchable wires. This device recorded well enough to enable patients to spell words using their thought.
This type of invention could revolutionise the life of people with disabilities for whom mind-controlled devices would considerably change their life.
A few years ago, a team of engineers at Samsung started working on a project to detect strokes by analysing brain waves.
Considered pretty much impossible at the time, they now built a real prototype called the EDSAP for Early Detection Sensor & Algorithm Package. This device allows everyone who has a smartphone or a tablet to monitor the electrical impulses in their brain and therefore give them the chance to detect an oncoming stroke and see their doctor before it happens.
With 15 million people suffering from stroke every year, and 66% of them resulting in death or permanent physical disabilities, this device could be really helpful.
How does it work?
The headset is composed of sensors that wirelessly transmit data to a mobile app where the algorithm calculates the risk of stroke all in 60s. Besides, the data collected can also be analysed to inform the user about stress level, anxiety and sleep patterns.
How does it defer to any other brain sensor?
- Unlike other brain sensors on the market, the EDSAP is more focused on health-related matters rather than controlling other devices.
- It is also a lot faster than the normal time required from the material used in hospitals (60s instead of 15min).
- The highly conductive rubber-like material invented by the team allows the headset to scan brain waves in a larger amount and more comprehensively.
- It is easier and more comfortable to wear as the Saline usually required does not need to be rubbed in the hair anymore.
- Last but not least, the rubber-liked material invented allows the creation of multiple smaller devices that could be implemented in people’s everyday life. For example, for a longer use, the sensors could be added to hairpins or eye glasses.
Based on the analysis of brain waves from patients suffering from stroke combined with Artificial Intelligence, this project, once ready, could also be applied to other neurological health issues such as depression.
In the pursuit of innovative technology, the advancement of scientific research seems to always be a step ahead. This new experiment aiming to give artificial limbs feeling is one of them.
A group of South Korean and US researchers have developed a polymer capable of mimicking some of the real sensory capabilities of the skin.
The research around smart prosthetic limbs or stretchable material has been going on for years but this seems to be the most advanced material created yet with around 400 sensors per square millimeter.
As well as adding sensation to this stretchable material, the next challenge is to create durable connections to the human brain so that people could actually “feel” what they touch using a prosthetic.
Only tested on rats at the moment, the smart skin connected to a rat’s brain has shown some sensory output but not exactly to what extent the rat felt heat, pressure or moisture.
Further tests on bigger animals seem to be the future of this experiment.
via MIT Technology Review