This is the future: Scientists have developed a ‘hands-free’ musical instrument | more lifestyle | Hindustan Times
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This is the future: Scientists have developed a ‘hands-free’ musical instrument

The instrument that allows people to make music with their minds will help empower and rehabilitate patients with motor disabilities.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 13, 2017 15:33 IST
The Encephalophone is a musical instrument that can be controlled by the human brain.
The Encephalophone is a musical instrument that can be controlled by the human brain. (Shutterstock)

A newly-developed hands-free musical instrument that now allows people to make music with their minds is bringing a new meaning to “straight off the dome.” Researchers hope that this new instrument will help empower and rehabilitate patients with motor disabilities such as those from stroke, spinal cord injury or amputation.

“The Encephalophone is a musical instrument that you control with your thoughts,” explained first author Thomas Deuel from the University of Washington. “I am a musician and neurologist, and I’ve seen many patients with motor impairment, who can no longer play an instrument or sing,” said Deuel. “I thought it would be great to use a brain-computer instrument to enable patients to play music again without requiring movement.”

Deuel originally developed the Encephalophone (patent pending) in his own independent laboratory, in collaboration with Felix Darvas, a physicist at the University of Washington. The Encephalophone can be controlled via two independent types of brain signals: either those associated with the visual cortex (ie closing one’s eyes), or those associated with thinking about movement

The Encephalophone is based on brain-computer interfaces using an old method, called electroencephalography, which measures electrical signals in the brain. Scientists first began converting these signals into sounds in the 1930s and, later, into music in the 1960s. But these methods were still difficult to control and were not easily accessible to non-specialist users.

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