Have you ever started a task, got interrupted and then completely forgot what you were doing? New software that can identify what action you were carrying out and then steer you back on track could come to your rescue.
Bioengineers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed software that can "see" your intentions when performing ordinary actions. The software leverages a mathematical algorithm that reads signals from motor movements to learn your actions - whether you're driving a car, jotting down notes or perhaps even picking up a phone to call a friend.
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Aside from the element of intrigue that this type of software would prevent, there are also significant, real-life applications. It could be particularly beneficial to those recovering from a stroke or struggling with a neurological disorder like spastic cerebral palsy, in which messages sent from the brain to the body get interrupted and can cause involuntary movements.
A "smart" prosthesis equipped with this software could identify a person's intent and help them complete actions more smoothly.
Graduate research assistant Justin Horowitz, who developed the algorithm, refers to the software as a "psychic robot" that can "correct the course of a swerving car of help a stroke patient with spasticity," according to a press release.
"The computer has extra sensors and processes information so much faster than I can react," Horowitz said in the press release. "If the car can tell where I mean to go, it can drive itself there. But it has to know which movements of the wheel represent my intention, and which are responses to an environment that's already changed."
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In a first test of concept, Horowitz analyzed the movement of research subjects as they reached for an object on a virtual desk but had their hand pushed in the wrong direction. The software successfully estimated the subjects' intent.
The study, funded by the NIH and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, is called "I Meant to Do That." It was published online in the journal PLOS ONE.
via Tech Times