Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers announced on Sunday their
application of a unique computer pointing device, or mouse/keyboard replacement,
to operate one’s computer.
The student team, Ori Ossmy, Ofir Tam and
Ariel Rozen, developed the application last year for their bachelor’s degree
project under the supervision BGU software engineers Prof. Mark Last,
Dr. Rami Puzis, Prof. Yuval Alovitz and Dr. Lior Rokah.
development was announced only now that the university team applied for a patent
for the application, which could make life much easier for disabled, even
severely disabled such as Cambridge University theoretical physicist Prof.
Stephen Hawking, who is totally paralyzed by amytrophic lateral sclerosis and
can very slowly express his thoughts by batting his eyelids at a device that
recognizes his movements and turns them into letters.
Ten days ago, The
Jerusalem Post reported an application of the Australian company Emotiv Systems
to enable people to drive merely by using their brain.
With the BGU
application of the Emotiv device, which was developed for sophisticated computer
gaming rather than the disabled, Hawking could make just three different facial
movements such as a smile or think three different thoughts, which would be
mapped electronically and allow him to operate his computer quicker to perform
many tasks by zooming in, zooming out and selecting what he
Emotiv Systems is an eight-year-old electronics company that has
developed brain-computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG)
technology. The EPOC, their gaming peripheral, can be purchased on their
official website for $299. The Post described from a lecture at the Jerusalem
College of Technology an application to drive a vehicle (right, left, forward,
backward and stop) just thinking of doing so while wearing an EEG cap on one’s
head that contains 14 electrodes to sense brain activity.
Puzis told the
Post that his team’s application was preferable to batting eyelids but at this
early stage still would not replace the computer mouse or keyboard to operate a
computer, as it was slower than ordinary computer usage. “It is not yet ripe
enough,” he said.
But with improvements it could eventually become a
competitor, enabling people to sit back and think and operate a computer, he
But it would take a lot to let a graphic artist, for example, carry
out sophisticated movements with his brain activity.
Still, it would make
a difference for the disabled, and the BGU team plan to continue their research
on such people; until now, the application was developed using 17 healthy
Asked whether a severe headache could disrupt its use, Puzis
said it probably would, “but working with a computer mouse is also affected by
severe headaches.” He said the BGU application was small enough to be used in
one’s home, not just in a university lab.