Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Control of a Virtual Assistant in a Smartphone to Manage Messaging Applications

Sensors (Basel). 2021 May 26;21(11):3716. doi: 10.3390/s21113716.

ABSTRACT

Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are a type of assistive technology that uses the brain signals of users to establish a communication and control channel between them and an external device. BCI systems may be a suitable tool to restore communication skills in severely motor-disabled patients, as BCI do not rely on muscular control. The loss of communication is one of the most negative consequences reported by such patients. This paper presents a BCI system focused on the control of four mainstream messaging applications running in a smartphone: WhatsApp, Telegram, e-mail and short message service (SMS). The control of the BCI is achieved through the well-known visual P300 row-column paradigm (RCP), allowing the user to select control commands as well as spelling characters. For the control of the smartphone, the system sends synthesized voice commands that are interpreted by a virtual assistant running in the smartphone. Four tasks related to the four mentioned messaging services were tested with 15 healthy volunteers, most of whom were able to accomplish the tasks, which included sending free text e-mails to an address proposed by the subjects themselves. The online performance results obtained, as well as the results of subjective questionnaires, support the viability of the proposed system.

PMID:34073602 | DOI:10.3390/s21113716

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