Brain-Computer-Interfaces in their ethical, social and cultural contexts

Volume 12 of the series The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology pp 63-75


Brain-Computer Interfaces as an Emerging Assistive Technology (AT): The AT Professionals’ Perspective

  • Evert-Jan HoogerwerfAffiliated withAIAS Bologna onlus – Ausilioteca Living Lab Email author 
  • , Lorenzo DesideriAffiliated withAIAS Bologna onlus – Ausilioteca Living Lab
  • , Massimiliano MalavasiAffiliated withAIAS Bologna onlus – Ausilioteca Living Lab
  • , Matteo RimondiniAffiliated withAIAS Bologna onlus – Ausilioteca Living Lab
  • , Mick DoneganAffiliated withThe SpecialEffect Charity

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Ever since scientists have started to think about controlling a computer with the human brain, there has been a debate on possible fields of application. Developing applications for people with no or very little muscle control has been an obvious field of attention. BCI technology has thus become a field of interest for Assistive Technology (AT) professionals, who for many years now have been working on enabling solutions for people with disabilities. Nevertheless, BCI research is very specific and so far most experiments have been run in research laboratories by specialized BCI teams. In recent years they have started sharing their knowledge with AT professionals, and experiments outside the lab have led to the first practical applications. In this article we will discuss aspects of this process seen from the point of view of AT professionals. We will explain to the reader who these AT experts are and where they typically work, as well as their aims and methodologies. The final sub-sections deal more specifically with the challenging process of taking BCI technology out of the laboratory and into AT centers and the end user’s own environment.