Samsung has claimed to have created software so it could enable people with physical disabilities. This innovation is to enable control of special TV software using brainwaves alone. Samsung has named the project ‘Project Pontis.’ This is a groundbreaking technology by Samsung because it would enable quadriplegic people. The company says it is thinking of:
“users with physical limitations to change channels and adjust sound volume with their brains.”
Samsung reportedly started this project three months ago in collaboration with the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. The company made the announcement at the widely famous Samsung Developers Conference in San Francisco two days ago. At the conference, Samsung showed the world its second prototype TV software.
Ricardo Chavarriaga is a senior EPFL scientist who is working with Samsung on the project. At the conference, he said:
“How can we provide accessibility to people who cannot move or who have extreme limitations on their movements. We’re making tech that is more complex, that is more intelligent, but we should not forget this tech is being made to interface with humans.”
How It Works
The software reportedly uses machine learning to operate. The scientists have made the first step in collecting samples of how the brain works when the user wants to watch a movie. The scientists then work on comparing environmental indicators and brain scans. This information goes into the machine which ‘learns’ what to infer from it. The result lets the user select an action using eye movements and brain waves.
To make the system work, a user has to wear a headset with around 64 sensors. Other than the sensors, there is also an eye tracker that locates eye movement and feeds the software. The headset is connected to computer software which is, in turn, connected to the TV. The prototype currently in use tracks eyes to detect a group of videos and shows the user might like to see. The ultimate selection is then made with eye tracking. Chavarriga said in an interview:
“One thing we have to take into account is everybody is different. We believe we have to do the best for the person, so we have to personalize.”
Although developers are not making apps yet that brainwaves can control. Samsung claims to be doing extensive research in the field. Before Samsung, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched Neuralink in March 2017. This company was dedicated to the creation of neural lace. Neural lace includes the installation of tiny electrodes in the brain with the ability to translate thoughts.
Several neuroscientists have been working on creating a digital interface that represents the brain. However, the research is still in its early stages. Currently, all the work into a BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) is focused around people with paralysis. Similarly, once Samsung successfully creates more prototypes, it is hoping to test the first ones on patients in Swiss hospitals. Originally, Samsung intended the software to be in a smartphone but later settled on a TV.