Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Franz Kurfess

Abstract

Electroencephalography (EEG) was formerly confined to clinical and research settings with the necessary hardware costing thousands of dollars. In the last five years a number of companies have produced simple electroencephalograms, priced below $300 and available direct to consumers. These have stirred the imaginations of enthusiasts and brought the prospects of "thought-controlled" devices ever closer to reality. While these new devices were largely targeted at video games and toys, active research on enabling people suffering from debilitating diseases to control wheelchairs was being pursued. A number of neurochairs have come to fruition offering a truly hands-free mobility solution, but whether these results could be replicated with emerging low cost products, and thus become a viable option for more people is an open question. This thesis examines existing research in the field of EEG-based assistive technologies, puts current consumer-grade hardware to the test, and explores the possibility of a system designed from the ground up to be only a fraction of the cost of currently completed research prototypes.

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