Oct 8, 2018 Pauliina Alanen
“One of the reasons I got excited about this technology and that made me join the company were the endless use cases. It feels like you can apply this to anything where you are interacting with a machine,” says Joshua. Basically, with CTRL-labs’ device, you will be able to control anything you can today control with a mouse and a keyboard – and way beyond that. The applications may range from medical cases, gaining control of your arm without actually having an arm to being able to control the machine without having to type or speak anything. In addition, they’re looking at robotics and vast amounts of AR and VR applications.
But first, let’s back up a little bit. CTRL-labs says it’s dedicated to answering the biggest questions in computing, neuroscience, and design so creators can dream up new human-machine interactions. In other words, their technology could finally enable us to leave our mouse and keyboard home, and control the machine through intention capture. How can they do this?
“At its core, we are building a neural interface technology. When a person is wearing our device, we’re able to detect the output that is coming to the spinal cord motor units, that send the intention from the brain to muscle fibers. Our technology monitor the lower motor nervous system, that is the lower motor units that we use to control our muscles.” Joshua explains.
When asked about how their technology is different from more familiar EEG technology, Joshua says that their device gets much cleaner intention signal than an EEG would because it is reading the neurons in the spinal cord, which is the naturally evolved output signal of the human brain. It is also hard to miss the much improved user experience of a device worn on your arm, when compared with messing your hair with an EEG headset.
CTRL-labs is building a developer kit that will be available later this year, as announced in May. The kit will ship with a hardware device and CTRL-labs offers an SDK and API. “The thing we want to offer to the developers is the ability to bring novel ways to make the human-computer interaction more interesting. We are very excited to see what the creators can dream up with this potential.” says Joshua.
At the moment, there are about 45 people at CTRL-labs. The startup is still very research oriented and boasts many PhDs among its staff. The technology has been demoed at various events, where attendees have had the ability to try the device across a variety of application categories.
So how does it feel to control a computer or a machine with just your intentions? Joshua describes that it’s as easy as using your hand. “To your nervous system, your hand is just another device.” The training time for most of the applications is zero, so you can use it out-of-the-box. In addition, CTRL-labs’ machine learning algorithm becomes more automated as you go.
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