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Apr 07, 2017 09:32 AM EDT

Scientists Control Animals Using Thoughts With A New Technology [VIDEO]

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Parrots discover clever way to get food quicker

Controlling animals or another biological organism using only the mind is a stuff that only exists in science fiction or the Marvel Universe - think about Avatar or Aquaman. However, a group of scientists have developed a new technology that enables them to communicate with animals using only their thoughts.

Scientists from the famed Korea Advanced Institute of Science And Technology (KAIST) developed a new system that uses brain-computer interface or BCI with a device which allowed them to control a turtle.

A lot of researchers have been trying to develop brain-computer interfaces over the years which will enable humans to control machines using their thoughts. However, the technology has evaded them until now.

Compared to previous research that has attempted to control animals using invasive methods, the Korean researchers used a concept that uses an animal's instinctive escape behavior to control how it moves.

Putting the concept to use, they attached a combination of BCI and head-mounted display (HMD) onto the human controller while the turtle was equipped with a camera, a Wi-Fi transceiver, a computer control module, and a battery. They attached this 'robotic system' on top of the turtle's back along with a black semi-cylinder with a slit that acts as a stimulation device and can be turned 36 degrees using the BCI-HMD headset.

The BCI-HMD headset can identify three mental states - left, right, and idle. The left and right commands obstruct the turtle's view once the simulation device is activated through the Wi-Fi. This takes advantage of the turtle's natural instinct to move toward the light and cause it to change its direction. The human receiving images from the camera attached to the turtle and gets a real-time update to continue controlling the turtle.

Some of the practical uses of the technique is by integrating it with positioning systems along with virtual and augmented reality techniques to develop more sophisticated surveillance and reconnaissance military devices.

The study was published in the Journal of Bionic Engineering.

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