A team of European experts is working on a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton that could enable people currently confined to wheelchairs to walk again and also help astronauts rehabilitate to Earth gravity after prolonged periods in the weightlessness of space.
The MindWalker system, which is being developed as part of a three-year, 2.5 million euro project, consists of a brain-computer interface (BCI), a virtual reality training environment and a robotic exoskeleton attached to the legs.
If perfected, MindWalker will enable people with spinal chord injuries to achieve mobility by sidestepping their spinal chord as a communications pathway to their lower limbs. And, instead of having to rely on wheelchairs or walking frames to get around, they will be supported by an exoskeleton specially designed for everyday use.
Meanwhile, astronauts returning from prolonged space trips — trips that can cause severe bone deterioration and muscle loss — could use the system on their return to Earth to speed up their readjustment to Earth gravity.
If successful, the EU-funded project will bring several advances in different areas of BCI and exoskeleton design.
Read more about MindWalker here.
The vest is fitted with numerous, tiny electromyography (EMG) electrodes that can calculate your stress levels by monitoring the level of electrical excitation in your muscles.
The electrical signal produced by your muscles changes with your stress level. So, if you’ve been overdoing it at work (or prayer), for example, the sensors will register heightened electrical excitation and pass the signal to an electronic analysis kit via a network of tiny conducting metallic fibers.
The vest can then inform you to take a break –or make another espresso.