Finalists Announced in Brain Computer Interface Design Contest – Preview of Likely Competitors for Rumored BCI X Prize

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Cortech Solutions, US partner of Austrian g.tec Medical Engineering, today announced the finalists in the company’s Annual Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Research competition. This year’s competition is especially timely, since it provides a preview of some of the leading research groups in the field just as rumors circulate about the X Prize Foundation’s plan to announce an X Prize competition to “ignite a Brain-Computer Interface Revolution”.

Using an EEG-based BCI device to communicate by thoughts alone.

Creative competitions such as this and the type sponsored by the X Prize Foundation are key in getting scientific resources focused on practical problems.

Guenter Edlinger, PhD, CEO of g.tec Medical Engineering, explained, “The prize, endowed with $3,000, is an accolade to recognize outstanding and innovative research done in the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces.” This year's jury was recruited by the BCI2000 Group at the Wadsworth Institute in the New York State Department of Health, with Gerwin Schalk, PhD as the committee chair. The final award ceremony will take place June 3, 2010 on the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Monterey Bay, CA during the BCI Meeting 2010 – the foremost international scientific conference on BCI science and technology. The company has expressed interest in an exclusive arrangement with a science magazine to cover the finalists and to be the first to reveal the winning invention.

Out of over 60 project submissions from all over the world, the field has been narrowed to just the 10 best, representing some of the most prestigious research institutions around China, Singapore, USA, Canada and Germany. China, a relative newcomer to the field, leapt to the top of the pack with three projects among the ten finalists.

For more than 20 years researchers all over the world have been working on the development of a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). This is a direct communication channel between the brain and a computer. Once considered the realm of science fiction, BCI technology has been refined and transformed into consumer-ready products that can enable virtually anyone, including a completely paralyzed person, to communicate or control devices in their environment just by mental activity. In the past, patients have been supervised by the research scientists to use such BCI systems in daily life, but earlier this year Cortech Solutions and g.tec medical engineering brought intendiX, the first consumer-ready BCI for communication and smart-home control, to the US market. The EEG-based device is called intendiX and enables the user to control devices just by paying attention to the desired symbol on the computer screen.

Lloyd Smith, President of Cortech Solutions, Inc. said, “Recent advancements in the science behind brain-computer interfaces have led to significant advancements in the technology, and creative competitions such as this and the type sponsored by the X Prize Foundation are key in getting scientific resources focused on practical problems.” Guenter Edlinger, PhD, CEO of g.tec Medical Engineering agreed, saying, “A large number of research groups throughout the world are working on BCI technology, but there are many more in cognitive neuroscience, rehabilitation, kinesiology, computer science and other disciplines who are capable but not yet engaged in helping advance the science even more rapidly.” A recent press release from the Society for Neuroscience hailed an announcement by University of Maryland scientists that they could non-invasively reconstruct 3-D hand movements from electroencephalographic signals as ‘a huge advancement for people with disabilities and paralysis’. Dr. Edlinger added, “A decade ago, only a handful of laboratories at select research institutes had the tools to undertake research and development in this field. Today, tools like those we have developed allow any research laboratory to rapidly prototype a BCI solution, and test it immediately.”

g.tec is a worldwide developer of hard- and software for biosignal and BCI research and has actively cooperated with worldwide leading research-groups for many years. Cortech Solutions, Inc. is a US-based system integrator for scientific instrument manufacturers based all over the world, and the company’s customer-base represents many of the most advanced neurotechnology research laboratories in the world.

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