Last year certainly finished off with a bang with the invention of the “Brain Box”, a device that enables people with locked-in syndrome or other severe disabilities to make music by using their eyes. Brazilian-born composer Eduardo Reck Miranda is the man behind this astounding device that monitors brain activity through electrodes attached to the back of the user’s head, and keeps track of user’s eye movement on a screen. This enables the person to select which piece of music to hear or play by looking at the icon on the screen.
Miranda’s invention was inspired by a chance encounter 11 years ago with someone who had a locked-in syndrome and was paralyzed from the neck down. He has been on a mission since and has been involved in scientific research and development of software that can help create music. He is currently the head of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University in England. He is also a published author of several books on human-machine interface, such as the Guide to Brain-Computer Music Interfacing (October 2014), a book on world-class collection of Brain-Computer Music Interfacing (BCMI) tools and how these tools enable the extraction of meaningful control information from brain signals, and discusses how to design effective generative music techniques that respond to this information. To learn more about Miranda and his work, you can visit his site. We first learned about this on CNN.
Locked-in syndrome (LIS) is a condition in which a patient is aware but is unable to move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes. LIS results from a lesion or damaged to the brainstem, resulting in severe impairments due to the complete disruption of the motor pathways controlling eyes, face, trunk and limb movements, including breathing and swallowing. However, consciousness and cortical functions are preserved. It is also known as cerebromedullospinal disconnection, de-efferented state, pseudocoma, and ventral pontine syndrome.
No doubt significant innovations like Brain Box will continue to shape our modern world. It’s portent of great things to come and we are excited to see just how far this invention can go.