Proposed system to control turtles with brainwaves

Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have devised a system for remotely controlling the movement of turtles using human thought.

The concept relies on a turtle’s instinctive behaviour to move towards light. By attaching a black semi-cylinder with a small opening to the turtle’s back, the animal’s movement could be guided by blocking its vision in a particular direction. To do so using human thoughts, the team proposes a brain-computer interface (BCI) that can translate brainwaves into commands which move the opening in the cylinder, thereby controlling the turtle.

As well as the semi-cylinder to guide movements, the turtle’s ‘cyborg’ system would include a Wi-Fi transceiver, a Raspberry-Pi computer control module, a battery and a camera, all attached to the animal’s shell. Real-time images from the camera would be fed to a head-mounted display (HMD) worn by the human controller.

According to the researchers, the BCI would use electroencephalography (EEG) signals from the human to distinguish between three mental states: left, right and idle. Left and right signals would be sent by WiFi to control the semi-cylinder, obstructing the turtle’s view and guiding its instinctive movement toward the light from the slit, which could be turned ±36 degrees via the BCI.

The team says the technology could be developed to integrate positioning systems and improved augmented and virtual reality techniques. Potential applications include devices for military reconnaissance and surveillance.