Last Updated on Saturday, 31 December 2011 15:46
Written by Brendan Allison
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:17
Future BNCI was part of a cluster of thirteen projects that are all funded by the EC and focus on BNCI research. All of the other projects in our cluster focus primarily on new research and technological development, such as conducting new experiments and developing new hardware or software. Future BNCI was instead focused on helping BCI research and the BCI community, including our cluster partners. We also developed a roadmap that addresses issues of interest to our cluster and indeed the entire BCI community. Please go to the "Roadmap" tab to see more!
This logo represents our cluster:
The second half of the "Future BNCI Presentation" .pdf file under "Our Materials" contains information about our cluster partners. You can also learn more from their websites and the roadmap, which has summaries of the ten established projects. Three new projects are just joining ths cluster as of Dec 2011: Way, BackHome, and ABC.
TOBI is a large European integrated project which will develop practical technology for brain-computer interaction (BCI) that will improve the quality of life of disabled people and the effectiveness of rehabilitation.
- Budget: €12 million
- Duration: November 2008 - December 2012
- Coordinator: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
- Partners: Technische Universitaet Berlin, Technische Universiteat Graz, Fondazione Santa Lucia,
Eberhard-Karls Universitaet Tuebingen, University of Glasgow, Qualilife S.A, Stiftung Orthopaedische
Universitaetsklinik Heidelberg, Schweizerische Unfallversicherungsanstalt,Kreuznacher Diakonie,
Associazione Italiana per l'Assistenza agli Spastici della Provincia di Bologna, University of Wuerzburg.
- Contact persons: Prof. José del R. Millán
TOBI will design non-invasive BCI prototypes that will be combined with existing assistive technologies and rehabilitation protocols. In such a hybrid approach users can couple brain interaction with muscle-based interaction or can naturally switch between the different ways of interacting.
Non-invasive BCI are based on electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. The EEG is recorded through electrodes placed on the user's head. This technology is not invasive and only records the electrical activity of the brain without interfering with it.
TOBI is expected to have an impact by broadening the appropriate use of BCI assistive technology, by incorporating adaptive capabilities that augment those other assistive technologies they are combined with.
The consortium has identified four application areas where BCI assistive technology can make a real impact for people with motor disabilities:
After a pre-clinical validation the BCI assistive solutions will be tested and evaluated in real life situations by different populations of end-users.
TOBI will also carry out research on the philosophical and ethical aspects of brain-computer interaction.
Tremor is the most common movement disorder and it is strongly increasing in incidence and prevalence with ageing. More than 65% of the population with upper limb tremor presents serious difficulties in performing activities of daily living (ADL). Tremor is not life-threatening, but it can be responsible for functional disability and social inconvenience. It is typically managed by means of drugs, surgery (thalamotomy), and deep brain stimulation, but treatments are not effective in approximately 25% of patients.
The main objective of the project is to validate, technically, functionally and clinically, the concept of mechanically suppressing tremor through selective Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) based on a (Brain-to-Computer Interaction) BCI-driven detection of involuntary (tremor) motor activity:
- The system will detect and monitor involuntary motor activity (tremor) through a multimodal BCI. The proposed BCI will combine CNS (Electroencephalography, EEG) and PNS (Electromyography, EMG) data with biomechanical data (Inertial Measurement Units, IMUs) in a sensor fusion approach. It will model and track tremor and voluntary motion.
- It will also include a multi-channel array FES system for selective stimulation of muscles for tremor suppression while reducing the influence on voluntary motion.
- For a potential commercial exploitation the embodiment must fit potential user expectations in terms of cosmetics, functionality and aesthetics.
TREMOR proposes a multimodal BCI in which the main goal is identifying, characterizing and tracking involuntary motor bioelectrical activity as a command to trigger a biomechanical suppression of tremor.
BCIs with Rapid Automated Interfaces for Nonexperts (BRAIN) aims at developing Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) into practical assistive tools to enhance inclusion for a range of different disabled users.
Many of these people would otherwise have little or no opportunity to interact with loved ones, carers, home appliances and assistive devices, or personal computer and internet technologies.
BRAIN will improve BCI reliability, flexibility, usability, and accessibility while minimizing dependence on outside help. These improvements will entail upgrades to all four components of a BCI system - signal acquisition, operating protocol, signal translation, and application.
Lightweight, inexpensive, non-invasive sensors and amplifiers for signal acquisition will be developed that do not require significant preparation or cleanup times, uncomfortable electrode gel, skin abrasion, exposed wires or cables, expert assistance, or laboratory conditions. Software will identify the best BCI parameters for each user and customize the operating protocol accordingly. Automated signal processing software will improve signal translation. An intuitive universal interface will enable control of a range of existing applications, including home assistive technologies, a BCI training system to enhance performance, and a communications and entertainment package. By incorporating existing, well established tools, combined with the strengths of this multi-disciplinary consortium, these goals are now attainable.
Knowledge will be disseminated through conferences, workshops, and academic papers. A website with open source software and support tools will promote standardization and both commercial and academic development within and beyond the consortium. It is envisaged that such scientific and technical advances will advance wide scale deployment of BCI, establishing it as an assistive technology of choice for existing and new user groups.
DECODER is a European collaborative project that will deploy Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI) for the detection of consciouness in Non-Responsive Patients.
Budget: 2,799,921.00 €
Duration: February 2009 - February 2013
Coordination: University of Würzburg, Germany
Partners: Fondazione Santa Lucia, Italy; Technische Universität Graz, Austria; Medical Research Council, UK; Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands; Université de Liège, Belgium; Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany; Association du Locked-In Syndrom (ALIS), France; Guger Technologies OG, Austria.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Andrea Kübler (Coordinator)
DECODER will develop BCIs into single-switch based systems to practically enhance inclusion of patients who are otherwise only little or not at all able to interact with their environment and share Interface Computer Technologies (ICT).
Through the deployment of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for non-responsive patients DECODER will provide access to modern information and communication technology such as internet, personal computer or home appliances when only a single response of a person is available.
In this extreme case, no current assistive technology can help the patient interact with the environment. This situation poses serious ethical issues, since medical treatment can prolong the patients’ life, but leave them in a state of unacceptable quality of life.
This achievement will move on from the improvement of three components of state-of-the-art BCIs:
- signal acquisition (input),
- signal classification and
- signal translation (output)
and adapt them to the specificities of non-responsive patients such as low arousal, short attention span, and altered electrical activity of the brain.
Most promising interventions to restore walking function in stroke are based on robotic systems that intend to restore function by focusing on actions at periphery of the body (a BOTTOM-UP approach). By imposing gait-like movements at a more normal speed and without restricted duration, such robotic devices are thought to provide many of the afferent cues regarded as critical to retraining locomotion. BETTER is a European project that will develop a new approach for gait training in which such assistive technologies (ATs) might be improved if combined with non-invasive BNCI in order to increase the effectiveness in recovering function.
The principal goal of BETTER is to improve physical rehabilitation therapies of gait disorders in stroke patients based on BNCI assistive technologies, producing improved systems, providing guidelines for improving future systems, and developing benchmarking and evaluation tools. The project will validate, technically, functionally and clinically, the concept of improving stroke rehabilitation with wearable exoskeletons and robotic gait trainers based on a TOP-DOWN approach: The robot exerts physical stimulation -at the periphery- as a function of targeted neural activation patterns (related to user involvement). This intervention is expected to result in reorganizations in the cortex. Such Top-Down therapeutic treatment would aim to encourage plasticity of the affected brain structures to improve motor function.
The system will provide means to assess compliance through a multimodal BNCI.
The proposed BNCI will combine CNS and PNS data with biomechanical data.
It will determine if training the activation of signals that control lower limb tasks in combination with robotics devices is beneficial for restoring lower limb function.
BETTER will provide means for objective evaluation of the BNCI-based physical rehabilitation therapy and its usability and acceptability.
BETTER proposes a multimodal BNCI which main goal is to explore the representations in the cortex, characterize the user involvement and modify the intervention at the periphery with ambulatory and non-ambulatory robotic gait trainers.
BrainAble will conceive, research, design, implement and validate an ICT-based human computer interface (HCI) composed of BNCI sensors combined with affective computing and virtual environments. This combination will dramatically improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by overcoming the two main shortcomings they suffer - exclusion from home and social activities - by providing inner functional independence for daily life activities and autonomy (HCI connected to accessible and interoperable home and urban automation) and outer social inclusion (HCI connected to advanced and adapted social networks services).
In terms of HCI, BrainAble will improve both direct and indirect interaction with computers. Direct control will be upgraded by creating tools that allow people to control those inner and outer environments using a “hybrid” Brain Computer Interface (BCI) system (BCIs, Electro Oculogram (EOG), Electromyography (EMG), and Heart Rate). Furthermore, BNCI information will be used for indirect interaction, such as by changing interface or overall system parameters based on measures of boredom, confusion, frustration, or information overload. These self-adaptive tools will increase effective bandwidth because users will be able to use a plurality of signals to effect control, and also because adaptation will reduce errors and help provide the user with the desired control.
BrainAble’s HCI will be complemented by an intelligent Virtual Reality-based user interface with avatars and scenarios that will help disabled people to move around on their wheelchairs, interact with all sort of devices, create self-expression assets using music, pictures and text, communicate online and offline with other people, play games to counteract cognitive decline, and get trained in new functionalities and tasks.
A lack of mobility often leads to limited participation in social life. The purpose of this STREP is to conceive a system empowering lower limbs disabled people with walking abilities that let them perform their usual daily activities in the most autonomous and natural manner. New smart dry EEG bio-sensors will be applied to enable lightweight wearable EEG caps for everyday use. Novel approaches to non-invasive BCI will be experimented in order to control a purpose-designed lower limbs orthosis enabling different types of gaits. Complementary research on EMG processing will strengthen the approach. A Virtual Reality (VR) training environment will assist the patients in generating the correct brain control signals and in properly using the orthosis. The main BCI approach relies on Dynamic Recurrent Neural Network (DRNN) technology applied in a two stages process. After learning, the system will be able to match EMG signals to legs movements (Stage 2), and EEG to such EMG signals (Stage 1). The Stage 2 has already been successfully demonstrated by a project partner. The orthosis will be designed to support the weight of an adult, to address the dynamic stability of a body-exoskeleton combined system, and to enable different walking modalities. The VR training environment will comprise both a set of components for the progressive patient training under a safe and controlled medical environment, and a lightweight portable set using immersive VR solutions for self-training at home. The developed technologies will be assessed and validated with the support of a formal clinical validation procedure. This will allow to measure the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen approaches and to identify improvements required to build a future commercial system. In addition the resulting system will be progressively tested in everyday life environments and situations, ranging from simple activities at home to eventually shopping and interacting with people in the street.
The MINDWALKER project is supported by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Program (FP7 - 2007-2013) for Research and Technological Development and is coordinated by Space Applications Services NV.
IfA is involved in MUNDUS, a european project aiming to create a new MUltimodal Neuroprosthesis for Daily Upper limb Support. The new prosthesis will target patients with neurodegenerative and genetic neuromuscular diseases and high level Spinal Cord Injury. The final aim is to develop an adaptable and modular facilitator, which follows its user along the progression of the disease, sparing training time and allowing fast adjustment to new situations and using any residual control of the end-user, thus being suitable for long term utilization in daily activities.
Website: Coming soon...
Click for information on this project
The goal of the AsTeRICS Project is to develop a construction set for assistive technologies which can be adapted to the motor abilities of the end-users, technologies that will allow the access to different devices like PCs, cell phones and smart home devices, all of them integrated in a platform adapted as much as possible to each user.
The main objective of the project is to develop a support platform that will facilitate and improve communication resources of people with motor disabilities in their upper limbs.
The end user group at which this Project is aimed are adults (18+ years old) with motor disabilities in the upper limbs, with no cognitive impairment, no perceptual limitations (neither visual nor auditory) and with basic skills in using technologies like PCs, cell phones, electronic agendas, etc.
The Future BNCI project is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA). This means that the principal aims of Future BNCI involve identifying, engaging, and helping the various stakeholders that comprise the BNCI research community. Our colleagues in the 7.2 cluster (shown on this web page) are certainly among these key stakeholders, but we also interact with the BNCI research community at large, including groups wrom outside of the EU and/or from other funding sources. And of course, many stakeholders are not researchers - different user groups, nurses, doctors, carers, companies, students, people from related research fields, journalists, and the public at large may all be important contributors who should not be ignored.
Our project seeks to address two general concerns that are becoming more serious as the BNCI research ommunity advances. First, there is considerable disagreement regarding certain terms, standards, and guidelines. Because BNCI research involves people from so many different backgrounds, nations, and research methods, widely established norms rarely exist. Second, for similar reasons, there is little agreement on the most promising research directions. This could result in missed opportunities and wasted efforts as people pursue fruitless avenues. Hence, out project is working with many groups to reach agreement on these two issues.
Click here for a file that shows how various organizations across the EU and associated countries are involved in research within our cluster.
Click here for a slideshow with the agenda for our 31 March teleconference.