15 December 2017

All in one

Scientists of the I.Kant BFU tested a neuropribor at competitions of people with disabilities

BFU Press Service

The science fiction writer Vadim Panov has a series of novels "Enclaves", which describes the near future, when nano- and digital technologies, as well as genetic engineering, flourished. The Earth is no longer inhabited by people, but rather by cyborgs. Almost everyone has a special chip implanted in the occipital part of the head, which gives its owner, in fact, inhuman abilities. A lot of life–facilitating programs can be loaded into these devices - from all possible dictionaries to city guides and museums.

This miracle device was called "balalaika", because it was triangular in shape and somewhat resembled a Russian stringed musical instrument. 

Universal device

The Institute of Living Systems of the BFU named after Kant recently completed work on the device, which is also called "Balalaika". 

He is not triangular, and he does not have the same capabilities as the "balalaika" from Panov's books, but he is able to help people solve some rather serious problems. – This is a universal device that we have been working on for the last three years, – says the project manager, deputy director of the Institute Natalia Shusharina. – You can use it to perform various actions. For example, playing computer games without the help of hands, driving a wheelchair using the impulsive activity of the brain. That is, in fact, by the power of thought. 


The device also reads physiological parameters: ECG, heart rate, body temperature, and so on. If a person does not feel well and cannot go to the polyclinic to remove all these indicators, he can do it at home on his own, then sending the results to the doctor. 

Obedient avatar

As for the name of the device, Natalia Nikolaevna assures that it is inspired not only by fantasy novels.  "We named the device that way because the word "balalaika" is sonorous and memorable," she says. "And it has the same relation to a musical instrument as Apple products have to apples." 

It should be noted that the "Balalaika" is not the first device of its kind that was developed in the IHS, however, according to scientists, this one differs from the previous ones in about the same way as a push–button cell phone differs from an iPhone of the latest model. It seems that the functions are the same, but the possibilities are incomparably greater. 

It must be said that the Institute of Living Systems is considering the development of such devices (neural devices) as one of the priority areas of activity. 

– Now our specialists are working on the avatar. That's what we call a device that is controlled from afar. Relatively speaking, we raised our hand, and the robot standing in the distance also raised his hand," says Maxim Patrushev, Director of the Housing and Communal Services. – It is assumed that such avatars in the form of wheelchairs or exoskeletons will be in demand in medicine to help people with disabilities. However, we do not set ourselves the task of filling a certain segment of the market, our goal is to create a universal platform that can be used in different industries. 


Neural networks are coming

In general, according to the head of the IHS, neurotechnology is a worldwide trend that leads to communication with smart devices using nerve impulses. Now we give instructions to computers using mice and keyboards, and soon it will be possible to do this without intermediaries. In a certain sense, robots will read our thoughts or, at least, guess our desires, understand our mood. 

Of course, this will give rise to a lot of different kinds of ethical problems, but progress, as you know, has not yet been stopped by anyone.

– It is possible that we do not know something, but participating in various exhibitions and competitions, we have never seen another completely Russian neuropribor like ours, - Patrushev continues. – Of course, there are companies that, for example, use an American control element, a cap with electrodes that is put on the head – a German one, but so that it is entirely a domestic development, we have not yet encountered this. 

Recently, the developers of a neuropribor from the I.Kant BFU traveled to St. Petersburg to take part in the "Neurotlon" - a competition for people with disabilities using assistive technologies. 

The purpose of this kind of competition is to popularize high technologies aimed at expanding the capabilities of the human body and replenishing lost functions.

"We were the only ones who presented the developed device, the rest of the competitors used purchased devices," Natalia Shusharina said. 

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia under an agreement with the I. Kant BFU. 


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