Washington D.C.: A team of researchers have come up with a 'psychic robot' that knows what you really meant to do.
Bioengineers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a mathematical algorithm that can "see" your intention while performing an ordinary action like reaching for a cup or driving straight up a road, even if the action is interrupted.
"Say you're reaching for a piece of paper and your hand is bumped mid-reach -- your eyes take time to adjust; your nerves take time to process what has happened; your brain takes time to process what has happened and even more time to get a new signal to your hand," said first author Justin Horowitz.
"So, when something unexpected happens, the signal going to your hand can't change for at least a tenth of a second -- if it changes at all," Horowitz added.
The algorithm can predict the way you wanted to move, according to your intention, Horowitz said. The car's artificial intelligence would use the algorithm to bring the car's course more in line with what the driver wanted to do.
"If we hit a patch of ice and the car starts swerving, we want the car to know where we meant to go," he said. "It needs to correct the car's course not to where I am now pointed, but [to] where I meant to go."
For a stroke patient, a "smart" prosthesis must be able to interpret what the person means to do even as the person's own body corrupts their actions (due to muscle spasms or tremors.) The algorithm may make it possible for a device to discern the person's intent and help them complete the task smoothly.
Horowitz noted that they call it psychic robot, adding that this algorithm can be used to design machines that could correct the course of a swerving car or help a stroke patient with spasticity.
The study is published online in the journal PLOS ONE.