Mind-controlling cockroaches

Producing micro robotics is not yet easy or cost-effective, but why do we need to when we can just control the minds of cockroaches? A team or researchers from North Carolina State University is calling this augmented Madagascar Hissing cockroach an Insect Biobot in their latest research paper (PDF). It’s not the first time the subject has come up. There have already been proofs in research and even more amateur endeavors. But the accuracy and control seen in the video after the break is beyond compare.

The roach is being controlled to perfectly follow a line on the floor. One of the things that makes this iteration work so well is that the microcontroller includes a new type of ADC-based feedback loop for the stimulation of the insect brain. This helps to ensure that the roach will not grow accustom to the stimulation and stop responding to it. Since this variety of insect can live for about two years, this breakthrough makes it into a reusable tool. We’re not sure what that tool will be used for, but perhaps the next plague of insects will be controlled by man, and not mother nature.

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Flinging birds and slaying pigs with your thoughts

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[Rafael Mizrahi and Anat Sambol] decided that Angry Birds was missing one crucial element – mind control. They grabbed a copy of the game for their netbook and [Rafael] strapped on an Emotiv EPOC headset to see if he could play it without using a mouse or keyboard. While he was able to move the cursor around with his thoughts, he found that Emotiv’s EmoKey software lacked any sort of mouse button support. Undaunted, they turned to the Internet for help and found that he could map the Emotiv’s output to his mouse via another application, GlovePie.

As you can see in the video below their efforts were successful, though we doubt [Rafael] will be completely giving up his mouse just yet. With some more refinement, we imagine [Rafael] will be blasting pigs to kingdom come in no time.

If you are interested in trying this yourself, be aware that only the SDK version of the EPOC headset can be paired with 3rd party applications, the standard consumer version is locked into using solely authorized software.

Continue reading if you would like to see a video of their Angry Birds neural interface in action.

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Fly like Superman using The Force

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At one point or another, who hasn’t had a dream in which you could fly, simply by thinking about it? [Yehuda Duenyas, aka XXXY] is currently working on a project at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute which can allow you to do just that.

As part of a thesis project dubbed the “Infinity Simulator“, he has constructed a system that allows people to fly about using the elaborate rigging system at RPI’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. His project allows users to glide through the air, walk up walls, and otherwise live out their flying fantasies, with mere thoughts.

An EEG headset is placed on the user, along with other wearable sensors which enhance the audio and visual experience of the person in flight. With enough concentration, the rigging system sweeps people off their feet, sending them soaring anywhere their mind desires. It sounds a bit like pretending to be Superman while using The Force to us, however the installation is described on the EMPAC web site as a “live-action stunt show crossed with a video game.” Either way, sign us up!

Hopefully we will see some video of the completed project in the near future, but in the meantime keep reading to see a behind-the-scenes preview of the flying rig in action.

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Brain control for the Arduino

brain-controlled-arduino

When we hear about a brain controlled Arduino project we immediately think about a coding nightmare. As always, the simple hacks are the best hacks. [Joel] and [Akshay] used hardware from a kid’s game as a brain interface for an Arduino.

We came across the video (embedded after the break) of their work and asked for more info on what we thought was an incredibly difficult hack. It turns out they purchased Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer which uses a headset to measure brain waves and has a base unit that reacts to these measurements. Hacking into this device didn’t require reverse engineering of anything. They took the easy route, and tapped into the five LEDs on the base unit. As the game measures greater levels of concentration, it lights up more LEDs.

So far tapping into the game is just a proof of concept. It’s up to you to implement a brain controlled beer bot.

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