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Independent mobility is key to performing activities of daily living and brings with it a wealth of psycho-social benefits. However, for many people with severe motor disabilities, conventional user interfaces simply do not offer an adequately safe and reliable control method. This either renders some people reliant upon carers, or exposes them to unacceptably high levels of risk.
Methods in which the control authority is shared between the user and the device itself aim to overcome this challenge by providing a tailored level of assistance. This can improve the usability of conventional interfaces for some people, but others need alternative solutions. Brain-computer interfaces are one such option, which offer the possibility to control devices merely by thinking, without needing to make any physical movements.
Tom will explore some of the shared control systems and brain computer interfaces that have been used in mobility research to date. He will then highlight the key challenges yet to be overcome and hypothesise how such techniques may also prosper in the wider fields of assistive technology and rehabilitation.
Tom Carlson is a Lecturer at the Aspire Create — Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology — UCL. He obtained his MEng (2006) and PhD (2010) from the Electrical Engineering Department at Imperial College London. Before moving to UCL, he undertook 3.5 years of postdoctoral research on brain-computer interfaces at EPFL, Switzerland.
Tom currently co-chairs the IEEE SMC Technical Committee on Shared Control.