Brain-controlled avatar to help patients with disabilities

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Brain-controlled avatar project

Brain-controlled avatar to help patients with disabilities

As part of a neuroscience research project, onepoint, Nantes University Hospital and Centrale Nantes School have been working on a brain-controlled avatar project since last winter.

The main goal of this collaboration is to combine various advanced technologies to improve rehabilitation and management of phantom pain, which may occur after amputation or damage to the nervous system, and also as a result of some neurological disorders or disabilities (such as those caused by a stroke).

Combining medical knowledge, Brain-to-Computer Interface (BCI), artificial intelligence, 3D, UX and UI design, alternative realities (virtual, augmented, mixed) and gamification, the teams developed a system to analyze a person’s brain activity using an electroencephalographic helmet and interpret their intentions of movement by projecting them on a virtual avatar.

Onepoint also contributed its expertise in project management in agile mode, featuring a co-construction approach composed of design thinking, ideation and prototyping workshops.

“The potential of brain-computer interfaces for neurorehabilitation in broad terms is huge and still needs to be explored. The integration of virtual reality, augmented reality, and all other sensory feedback devices allows a powerful immersion of patients in a universe specially created to guide their learning and rehabilitation. The experience must be intuitive, fun, and adaptable to the individual progress of each patient, while also allowing the practitioner to evaluate this progress,” explains Dr Vincent Roualdes, neurosurgeon at Nantes University Hospital.”

The first tests carried out by the team being conclusive, clinical trials should begin as early as 2019.

“This is the first time in France and, to our knowledge, in the world that such systems, combining virtual reality, gamification, artificial intelligence and BCI, are designed in the health field with a concrete application in terms of care,” explains Sébastien Ravoux, onepoint Tech Lead in charge of the project.

Dr Vincent Roualdes already sees in them an innovative way of “using targeted training to guide brain plasticity to “repair” the brain when it’s still possible or controlling connected objects or prostheses to compensate for motor disabilities (patients will learn to control them through these virtual reality systems). It takes a good synergy between teams from very different backgrounds to achieve such results.”

This project will be presented by the Nantes University Hospital and onepoint on 22 September 2018 at the Digital Week in Nantes.