This study assessed the possibility of implementing a brain computer interface (BCI) based software solution for people with motor disabilities. The traditional use of mouse or keyboard for interaction with the computer is not applicable in this case so the basic theme of the project is to help them communicate easily with computers using brain signals. The aim was to use BCI devices like the NeuroSky MindWave to discover hidden patterns of the brain signals that are accurate and reliable to be used as real-time input of interactive multimedia applications. The major stages of implementation included: acquiring the EEG signals, taking samples of user’s brain signals for training, processing and classifying the EEG signals, indicating two states of mind. One when there is some cognitive process going on and other when brain is idle. The classification is based on these two states of mind. Eye blinks are used to control the mouse pointer which can move in all four directions. The major modules included a web browser, game and email client to be used by disable people. The project performed actual test of the system using human subjects. The users were able to control the computer with a cheap BCI device with 90% of accuracy.

Interacting with computer through keyboard and mouse has been there for decades. This type of interaction is well and fine for people without any motor deficits. About 15% of the world’s population comprises of people suffering from motor deficits and therefore can’t use mouse or keyboard to interact with computers so they are totally or partially disconnected from the modern world of computing, internet and gaming. Therefore there is a need of some alternative communication and control modality for these people to interact with computers. If so then what would be the alternative mechanism? The answer is BCIs (Brain Computer interfaces).

Research on BCIs started in the 1970s and the primarily focus of BCI researchers was on medical application, i.e., to cure ADHD, ALS, Dyslexia and other mental disorders. Soon the trend shifted to non-medical applications also after BCI devices became affordable and available in the market. Various applications and games have been developed based on these devices, and currently BCI development is no more constrained to treatment purposes only.
NeuroSky mindwave is a low cost EEG device of NeuroSky Company released in 2010 for both education and entertainment purposes. The mindset comes with software development tools, a single brainwave sensor, 3 reference sensors, and is worn like any ordinary headphones. The device has a microchip for preprocessing the EEG signals acquired from the forehead, and a Bluetooth module to transfer the pre-processed data to the computer.

The aim of this project was to provide a low cost alternative computer-interaction modality for motor disabled people, thus enabling them to use computer, to browse internet and to play games. The idea behind this project was being able to control the functionalities of mouse with brain waves. Once the mouse is controlled the user could use the computer in the same way as a non-disabled person uses through a real mouse. The user can type words from an on-screen keyboard through the mouse cursor. The project also presents the integration of a specially developed web browser, an Email client application and a game with the BCI system.

Ch Rehan Ikram
Fahad Ali
M Arsalan Fayyaz