Skip to content

Typing with no hands. Just brain signals.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

By Charlene Chetcuti

Controlling technology using just your brain is no longer science fiction. It forms part of an ever-growing research area known as Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI). BCI interprets brain signals in order to determine a person’s intention. This allows them to control anything from a robotic arm to a computer application without having to move a muscle. Electrodes are placed on a person’s scalp to detect brain activity. The electrical signals are filtered and processed to determine a person’s intent.


Picture1Charlene Chetcuti (supervised by Prof. Kenneth P. Camilleri) developed a system that allows a computer cursor to be controlled merely by looking at a virtual keyboard. The application takes advantage of brain signals, called Steady State Visually Evoked Potentials (SSVEP), which occur when a person looks at a flickering light and the brain fires signals at the same frequency. The electrodes on an individual’s scalp can easily pick up these signals. Chetcuti designed each keyboard command to blink at different frequencies. The system could then determine where a person was looking by the frequency their brain fired, allowing remote keyboard control.

These types of BCI systems face issues that prevent their widespread use and the performance of the system relies on visual feedback given by the user. Chetcuti designed a novel protocol, which was tested by a number of volunteers. By exploiting certain aspects of the SSVEP signal, visual fatigue was reduced and the overall system performance was improved.

BCI systems help people with mobility impairments communicate. This technology also opens up new possibilities to remotely control televisions, air-conditioners, and entertainment equipment. The Department of Systems and Control Engineering is carrying out more research to continue to improve the speed, robustness, and ease-of-use of brain-computer interfaces.


This research was carried out as part of a Bachelor of Engineering degree at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Malta.

More to explorer

Maltese Innovation Promises New Era in Accessing Space

A team of researchers and engineers from the University of Malta’s Astrionics Research Group (ASTREA) are developing their own satellite and ground station for Malta to take its place in the night sky above.

Cutting EDGE Research: the Genomes of Maltese Plants

Conservation is a 21st century hot topic. It is a top priority worldwide to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. But how can we even begin to conserve our natural environment if we don’t understand it? Ines Ventura investigates.

Impressions on Branding

Our impression of a brand shapes our experience of the product or service involved. Five students from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Digital Arts looked into this, involving their own interests in the medium.

No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.