We can finally make things move with our minds© EEG Smart
Step into the future with the telepathic drone controlled by brain power
We speak to the developers of UDrone, the device that can be flown and controlled using the power of the human mind.
By Jack Colman
Published on
If you could have any superpower what would it be? Would you fly? Be invisible? Shapeshift? We like the sound of mind control and the ability to subtly move things exclusively with the power of our brains. What was once perceived as one of the more fantastical answers to the age-old debate is now becoming reality, and EEG Smart are leading the way.
Since 2015, the Chinese company have been working on applications with the ultimate aim of creating the world's leading bio-electric artificial intelligence wearable device. Now, four years later, having worked with the team at Aerowood, they're ready to release a piece of hardware that will capture the imaginations of the world's most future-gazing drone lovers.
The UDrone is a brain-controlled drone that can fly without any physical controller, able to identify facial movements and gestures to perform different actions. The drone is small, weighing just 85g, and is designed for close range use of up to 20m.
As you can likely imagine, this isn't a technology that's just popped out of thin air, and it will require a brief science lesson to comprehend exactly what's going on with this flying piece of innovation.
The UDrone kit laid out on a table.
The UDrone is a micro-drone, weighing only 85g
To understand how the UDrone works, we have to work out exactly what electroencephalography (EEG) is. EEG is the monitoring of electrical activity that's occurring on the surface of the brain. This activity is constant, and EEG Smart have lived up to their name and developed a method to generate movement using this activity.
To function the UDrone, the user must wear a special sensor-loaded headband that monitors varying stages of EEG to gauge 'concentration' levels. We asked EEG Smart's marketing manager, Stefanie Liu, to explain how this works in some further detail. "The concentration test in the field of EEG state is a mature technology," she explains. "We carried out an analysis on the collected EEG signals and found out the signal characteristics when the concentration is high, according to the energy values of different wave bands. Once the user's concentration reaches a particular level, the drone begins to elevate."
So, there you are, staring intently at a drone as you watch your brain activity transferred into flight. You're living your 10-year-old self's greatest dream. How will you remember such a magical moment? Well, take two blinks and you'll be rewarded with a 1080p photo taken by the UDrone. The drone's facial recognition technology monitors eye movement and takes a clear photo at the sight of two blinks, or a 'V' sign with your fingers.
The facial commands don't stop there, as the drone can be steered by tilting your head in the direction you wish it to fly. Once the fun is over, bite down on your back teeth for two seconds and the UDrone will land, no hands needed. Should you wish to take a mental break, Liu explains that manual mode is also available.
"The EEG mode is great to exercise your attention and help you find the feeling of high concentration," she says. "Equally, you can relax at any time and use the traditional manual, hand-held controller to fly the drone. After all, it's designed for fun."
The UDrone is the first step down a path of tech innovation that will likely undergo rapid development in the coming years. While crystal clear drone photography is great, we haven't seen too many Instagram posts with a neurological wave monitoring headband recently. Maybe we're looking in the wrong place, but Liu believes that a solution will come one day. "The day for this technology living on a microchip will come, and we hope that the chip doesn't need to be implanted under the skin. We hope for a non-invasive EEG solution," she explains.
In a very modern world, the idea of taking a floating selfie with your mind is a prime pull factor, but we don't want to stop here, and are excited to see where this technology is heading. Could it be that one day we'll be pouring a cup of coffee with our minds, or switching on the TV with a second of concentration? If it makes us feel like we're in the X Men, we're all for it.