Thought-controlled Asimo   (Source: Honda)
Honda's ASIMO continues development, showing great promise

Honda has created a new robotic technology that allows users to control robots by human thought alone.  Previous robotic systems required physical interaction or control, but the Brain Machine Interface, BMI, marks the first thought controlled system to be introduced.

Honda is working with Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute and Shimadzu -- the trio of companies is working to continue perfecting the system so it can be used with other robotic systems.  Honda's system uses electroencephalography (EFG), a technology designed to measure electrical potential on the human scalp, alongside near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), which is the ability to measure cerebral blood flow changes in the human brain.  

Once the information has been collected, ASIMO, the human-shaped robot, then carries out the task it has been given.  Honda showed a video clip of a participant wearing a special helmet, and each time the person thought about moving a right or left hand, ASIMO moved the appropriate hand.

The new system has seen a 90.6 percent success rate to date, which is reportedly the new record among BMI technology, according to reports.

"By only imagining moving their right hand, for example, a test person can move ASIMO's right hand," Honda Research Institute Japan scientist Tatsuya Okabe said.  "The accuracy of a movement depends on the test person and whether that person is good at concentrating."

The company didn't show a live demonstration of the technology, citing the fact that a person's thinking could be distracted if they don't have strong concentration.  Furthermore, Honda needs two to three hours to study participants prior to the technology working properly

Honda is best known as an automotive manufacturer, but has invested a heavy amount of funds into research and development of robotic technology.  The company has several prominent robots that it has displayed to the public, although nothing has been released to the consumer market as of yet.

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