Controlling an avatar with your brain

November 1, 2011
fMRI images

fMRI images showing brain activity corresponding to imagined body movement, used in a brain-computer interface (credit: AVL)

The Advanced Virtuality Lab (AVL) at the Interdisciplinary Center Israel, is developing a system for controlling a virtual or physical body using only the mind, Israeli Innovation News reports.

The VERE (Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment) project is one of the first to use an fMRI brain scanner to control a computer application interactively in real time, — an innovation which could help severely disabled patients communicate better, says AVL head Dr. Doron Friedman.

“You could control an avatar just by thinking about it and activating the correct areas in your brain,” he said.

Another focus of the AVL is telepresence. The BEAMING (Being in Augmented Multi-modal Naturally-networked Gatherings) project aims to produce the feeling of a live interaction using mediated technologies such as surround video conference, virtual and augmented reality, virtual sense of touch (haptics), and spatialized audio and robotics.

The physical robot shown in the video is developed by the group of Martin Buss and Angelika Peer from the Technical University of Munich.