Tapping power of the brain

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 19 Oct 2019

UTP students Niharika Singh, 26, from India (left) and Idlan Qayyum Abdul Mohaimin, 20, (right) preparing their drone during the competition.

UNDERGRADUATES used either their brainwaves or eye blinks to control drones in the northern region semi-finals of the Brain-Computer Interface Contest using Mind-Controlled Drones 2019 in Penang.

The event saw the 13 teams from three universities competing to show their technological prowess.

A team of three, Puteri Ainin Sofia Nor Rahim, 21, and sisters Sabrina Muhammad Razak, 21, and Syukrina, 22, chose the more difficult route of using brain- waves.

“It is more difficult because collecting data to build the software is hard.

“Only one person can operate it as everyone’s brainwaves are different. We also had to assemble the drone and solder the microchip.

“I study biomedical electronic engineering, so I learned how to build the software, ” said Puteri Ainin Sofia at the competition held at Universiti Sains Malaysia recently.

Sabrina, who studies mechatronics engineering, said her degree helped her with the assembling of the drone.

“We all pitched in with our skills to work on the project. So far, we don’t seem to have a problem with the software, ” she said.

The three are from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Perlis.

Believed to be the first such brain-computer interface (BCI) competition among university students, 84 teams from 16 universities in Malaysia took part.

It was organised by Braintech and TusStar.

Braintech assistant director Dr Wendy Bong said participants were required to use two types of human signals - electroencephalogram (EEG) or the electrooculography (EOG), to write a programme to control a drone.

“BCI is a rising technology that uses brainwaves as a medium to remotely control computers or other smart devices.

“We provide a chip that can capture brainwaves and other materials too.

“The teams must build a drone, incorporate programmes via EEG or EOG and finally operate the drone using BCI technology.

“Our goal is to nurture more talents in BCI technology and encourage more inter-disciplinary collaborations among university students, ” she said.

Bong said most teams comprised participants skilled in neuroscience, engineering, computer science, and artificial intelligence.

Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee, who was guest of honour, said the competition provided a platform for young innovators to exhibit their creativity.

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