While other college students were enjoying a break from school, participants in the MTEQ 2016/2017 winter internship program were “Using the Force” and learning new ways to use the power of the mind.
Megan Moulton -Freshman English major at Christopher Newport University (CNU), Maddie Williams – Sophomore Physics major at Auburn University, Michelle Werner – Junior Math major also at CNU, and Eduardo Davila – Junior Computer Engineering major at Virginia Tech, formed the team that Mary Williams, MTEQ President tasked for a “special research project.”
The project the interns were given to complete during their winter break required that they “make something move” with the power of their minds. The team started with an Emotive Insight portable, wearable 5 channel EEG headset and accompanying software package.
The headset allows a user’s real time brainwave activity to be translated into actual or virtual action. Through “training” their brain using the headset, the team members learned how different stimuli corresponded to activity in different parts of the brain. The headset is also able to recognize different facial expressions such as frowning, smiling, etc., and the user can turn these expressions into control of both virtual and actual objects. In addition, the headset is equipped with a built in gyroscope which could be used to operate a number of devices.
The object to be moved was a Parrot AR drone. While Parrot drones are designed to be controlled from a smartphone, tablet, or computer, they are not out of the box designed to be operated by an Emotive EEG headset. The team would have to become familiar with the capabilities and functionality of the headset, the operating parameters of the drone, the abilities of their own brains, and would also have to write some code. Standard problems of working in a team would also need to be resolved. They would need to inventory their individual abilities, parcel out the tasks needing to be completed in order to meet the goal, come up with solutions to setbacks that are part of any project, and of course there was a hard deadline that could not be moved to the right. School was going to start back on time.
Headquarters staff the team presented their project. Describing the goal of their project, problems faced, and lessons learned they gave a very professional and detailed presentation. The grand finale, of course, was the flight demonstration. Launching from the MTEQ Boardroom table, the drone was piloted around the room and brought in for a successful landing.
The interns have returned to school now and are immersed back into college life. MTEQ headquarters is a quieter place. Summer time looms however and the interns will return for their next project. Who knows, maybe a suit made of metal that allows the wearer to fly?