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New Scientist reports that Chinese researchers have managed to use the popular AR.Drone Parrot RC quadcopter as a thought-controlled virtual eye, an extremely beneficial solution for disabled people. The ultimate goal of the research is to give people with impaired motor abilities a new way of interaction – using a mind-controlled flying device equipped with a video camera to take a close-up look at distant objects. Read more below and watch the video at the bottom of the article.As you might remember this is not the first attempt to control a Parrot helicopter flight with brainwaves. As we reported in April 2012 the SWARM extreme university project was also aimed to fly the Parrot in an unusual way. However this time the team of the Chinese Zhejiang University even suggests the helicopters could be used for extended seeing and taking pictures from new perspectives, or as a fun sport allowing physically-able and disabled people to fight each other like in multiplayer video game, but in a real-life air-pitch, dodging, diving and pushing to force each other out of a ring.

The system uses the well-known Emotiv EPOC brain-computer interface headset that recognizes and interprets brain-waves as commands for the AR.Drone. The commands are first sent from the headset to a laptop via Bluetooth, then by wireless to the hovering toy.

As New Scientist reports the toy’s range of motion is limited by the brain activity that the EPOC headset can pick up. For example the user can fly up the helicopter by thinking by thinking ‘push’, and turn clockwise by thinking ‘left. Thinking “left hard” tells the quadcopter to take off from the ground.


“Maybe one day in the future, disabled people can use brain to drive a plane in which they are seated, and go anywhere they want to go,” the researchers believe.

The system will be showcased at the Ubiquitous Computing Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (September 5-8 , 2012).