MindReader TM Neural Impulse Actuator Hands-free
Computer Access System
ultimate in hands-free computer control! New version 2 EMG
switch and 10 levels of control EEG headband with eye tracking
using extra sensitive carbon nanofiber-based sensors and
simple USB interface! Ideal for people with more limiting
disabilities such as CP, ALS, MD, MS, and TBI who are unable
to communicate or interact with devices otherwise. The keys to
unlocking many who are otherwise considered "locked in"!
National Business and Disability Council's Product of
the Year Award
National Institutes of Health Research Grants
Images to right are of product for gaming, headband
for disabled offers high quality sensitivity and
What it does
MindReader TM NIA Computer Access System software allows you
to control your computer totally hands-free. You can control
most AAC software, educational software and video games. The
MindReader TM NIA Access System is a sophisticated
biofeedback device designed to be used by a broad range of
people with disabilities; from minor to severe. Even users
with minimal ability to control facial muscles can usually
learn how to map “clicks” to a number of special controls.
How it works
You wear the MindReader TM headband which detects electrical
signals from your facial muscles, eye movements, and
brainwaves. The MindReader TM software decodes these signals
into virtual fingers or Brain Channels which trigger mouse and
keyboard events to control third party software such as
Dazzle, Ezkeys, Wivik, Reach, IntelliTools, Dynavox for
Windows software, The Grid, Gaze Talk, etc. The MindReader
TM Neural Impulse Actuator can be used in combination with
Head-Tracking devices such as SmartNav.
can use it
People with severe and multiple disabilities have success with
the Neural Impulse Actuator. Computer access and
communications has been achieved by persons with disabilities
such as CP, ALS, MD, MS, TBI, and Spinal Cord Injury. See
Success Stories for some examples of some of the
people who use the Neural Impulse Actuator for computer
How to Obtain
MindReader TM is not complicated, and control with the EMG
switch capabilities can be implemented quickly. However the
more advanced features do require dedication and practice.
Like an athlete, it takes practice to learn to control one's
body. Training is typically broken into 4 sessions and
provided to the person primarily assisting the disabled
individual, often a family member or friend. Alternatively,
training can be provided to a therapist or other professional
who will be working with the disabled individual consistently
over a longer period of time.
Since many users may have good and bad days or may only be
able to concentrate at working with the equipment for 30
minutes to an hour at a time, neither Dr. Junker nor Broadened
Horizons is able to fly to your home, to provide on-site
training. Some local providers/resellers may the able to
assist you in your home. Broadened Horizons cannot bill your
insurance on your behalf. Most insurance companies require a
local provider/installer within your state who would purchase
the MindReader TM hardware and software on your behalf and
then manage billing your insurance. Always start by obtaining
a doctors prescription/referral. Once a local
provider/installer has gone through training and is familiar
with MindReader TM, they may provide training to the end-user
and primary assistant/family member, however MindReader TM
will not be sold unless a qualified individual is available to
provide training and setup support.
If a local service provider comes to your home repeatedly, the
cost of training and support services may be equal to or even
greater than the cost of the hardware and software, but these
services may be covered by insurance or funding provider when
Details of How It Works
hands-free access solution includes the Neural Impulse
Actuator hardware and software. The hardware consists of a
headband, interface box and connecting cables. The Neural
Impulse Actuator Software includes training software and
universal software access.
The headband senses and responds to surface electrical signals
generated from muscle, eye movement, and brainwave activity
detected at your forehead. Three sensors mounted inside the
headband are used to detect the forehead signal.. The headband
connects to the interface box which filters, amplifies and
digitizes your forehead signal.
The interface box connects to your computer through a serial
or USB port, The Neural Impulse Actuator Software further
amplifies your forehead signal and uses patented algorithms to
decode your forehead signal into separate frequency bands or
channels of information. Each channel or band becomes a
virtual finger or Brain Channel. The total amplification of
the resulting Neural Impulse Actuator Channels is over two
million. In this way your Neural Impulse Actuator Channels
become responsive to the subtlest of facial muscle, eye and
brainwave activity. The software computes a total of eleven
Neural Impulse Actuator
These eleven Neural Impulse Actuator Channels span the
controllable frequency range of your forehead signal. The
three lowest Neural Impulse Actuator Channels are responsive
to your lateral eye movements. The next three Neural Impulse
Actuator Channels are responsive to alpha brainwaves. The next
four Neural Impulse Actuator Channels are responsive to beta
brainwaves and the highest Brainwave is responsive to your
facial muscle activity.
The software includes a number of training windows designed to
help you learn to bring your Neural Impulse Actuator Channels
under conscious control. Included with the training windows
are help windows and adjustment windows to help you find how
to control your Neural Impulse Actuator Channels. Once control
is mastered you use a launch window to first build links
between your Neural Impulse Actuator Channels and computer
events needed to control third party software. You use these
links to provide universal access, allowing you to control
most 3rd party software.
If for example you had ALS and you could only control your jaw
muscle, you could use the 11th Brain Channel as a switch to
control an on-screen keyboard such as Words+ Ezkeys in a
Neural Impulse Actuator Channels are used to control the
up-and-down and the left-and-right movements of the mouse
cursor; affect visual and musical biofeedback displays, and
can be user-formatted to control mouse button and keyboard
commands. Eye movements and facial gestures can be separately
“mapped” (or recognized) to control user-formatted mouse
keyboard functions and software commands. Individual control
formats and adjustments are then easily made by using the
user-friendly graphical interface.
We provide the link
if you want a more in-depth discussion of the technical
aspects of the Neural Impulse Actuator Solution. We provide
Neural Impulse Actuator Software
for those who want a more detailed discussion of the software.
Discovery Channel KAPOW! Superhero Science - Neural Impulse
Actuator 3 minute Video
Windows Media Format:
experiences of Neural Impulse Actuator users are truly
amazing. These are stories from people that have deeply
inspired us. Through this page, we hope to share with you how
the Neural Impulse Actuator has helped and expanded the
horizons of these extraordinary people.
New! The Neural Impulse Actuator is now also being used
to create music! Recently development was begun to
incorporate Stephen Malinowski's wonderful program
With Stephen's and Brian Bamford of
Drake Music Scotland's
help the Neural Impulse Actuator now also works as an input
controller for Tapper.
Although some of these narratives are from our case files,
most are remarkably in their own words:
(Educator of Students with severe disabilities)
(person with CP)
(person with Repetitive Strain Injury)
(person with Spinal Cord Injury)
following success story is written about special education
teacher Danise M. Marler, M.A., Sp. Ed.. and her students. The
story is taken from the Los Angeles County Office of Education
(LACOE) Newsletter on Educational Programs. Dani's excellent
work also earned her a Master's Degree from CSUN. Part of her
work for the degree involved a case study using the Neural
Impulse Actuator with her students. You can download her
here as a .pdf file.
Since childhood, special education teacher Dani M. Marler has
wanted to be the next Annie Sullivan, the “miracle worker” who
opened up the world for Helen Keller. That day may have come.
Marler is working little miracles for her students with
profound multiple disabilities at LACOE’s Lincoln School in
San Gabriel thanks to a hands-free computer controller. Its
use is opening up a new world for students who previously had
no meaningful access to technology for communication, learning
and fun. “I’ve always believed my students can do so much more
than they’ve been assessed” Marler says. Most of her middle
school-age students are considered to function at a cognitive
level of less than 18 months of age. They cannot walk or talk.
“These students haven’t been able to use any existing
technology to access computers, including a single switch
device no matter where it is located on or around their
bodies” she says.
Always on the lookout for new technologies that would aid her
students Marler discovered “Neural Impulse Actuator”.
Convinced this could make a difference for her students,
Marler obtained a grant to bring the technology into her
classroom. The remarkable results are now the subject of her
master’s thesis. Marler studied the progress over eight weeks
of four students ranging in age from 9 to 19 who used the
Neural Impulse Actuator one hour a day, twice a week. During
this time she observed: Increase attention span – from 30
seconds to more than 30 minutes Student’s successful use of
toddler reading programs and video games Improved social and
emotional outcomes, including increased desire to learn
Recently in Marler’s classroom, student Briana is engrossed in
a game of video “Pong” smiling when she scores points. Not
long ago, the 19 year-old spent most of her day impassive in
her wheelchair. Briana’s mother, Lorraine says the change in
her daughter since using the Neural Impulse Actuator is
amazing. “She’s more focused, her entire demeanor has changed.
She’s alert and her eyes respond when she looks at things”
Marler says, “These students now have something they’ve never
had before, and this is just the start – who knows where they
following letter was written by Carla using her Neural Impulse
Actuator system. Carla lives in Italy. We recently visited
with Carla and our distributor in Northern Italy Cooperative
Sociale SIM-PATIA. Carla wrote the email in Italian and Nicola
Libonie was good enough to include a translation.
CARI ANDREW E PATRICIA
SONO MOLTO CONTENTA DELLA VOSTRA VISITA. IL Neural Impulse
Actuator E' DI UN'UTILITA' ESTREMA PER I DISABILI, RENDENDOLI
UN PO' PIU' INDIPENDENTI NELL'USO DELLA SCRITTURA AL COMPUTER.
PER ESEMPIO IO NON AVREI MAI POTUTO SCRIVERE UNA LETTERA COME
STO FACENDO ORA. MI SCUSO PER IL MIO RITARDO VERGOGNOSO,
GRAZIE E SPERO CHE POSSIATE VENIRE ANCORA PRESTO: MI
PIACEREBBE ANCHE VENIRE A VEDERE IL LUOGO DOVE ANDREW ELABORA
LE SUE BELLE INVENZIONI. GRAZIE ANCORA ED UN ABBRACCIO
RICONOSCENTE DALLA VOSTRA CARLA.
This italian email has fully been written by Carla! I only
traslated her text :-( Nicola Libonie, Sim Patia
DEAR ANDREW AND PATRICIA,
I'M VERY HAPPY FOR YOUR VISIT HERE. Neural Impulse Actuator IS
VERY USEFUL FOR DISABLED PEOPLE, IT MAKES US MORE INDIPENDENT
IN WRITING WITH THE COMPUTER. FOR EXAMPLE I COULDN'T EVER HAVE
WRITTEN A LETTER LIKE I'M DOING NOW. SORRY FOR MY LATE, THANKS
A LOT AND I HOPE YOU'LL COME HERE AGAIN SOON: I'D ALSO LIKE TO
VISIT YOU TO SEE THE PLACE WHERE ANDREW GIVES LIFE TO HIS GOOD
IDEAS. THANKS AGAIN AND A BIG HUG FORM YOUR CARLA.
name is Alston Daniel; I have had ALS for thirteen years since
I was twenty-six. ALS was constantly robbing me control of my
muscles. As this was happening I was constantly trying to
adapt to an ever-changing life style. I found myself becoming
more dependent on my computer for daily activities. It was my
most valuable asset. As time past, it was becoming ever so
more difficult and exhausting to operate. Little did I know I
was beginning a long journey of computer access devices, which
would prove to be of short-term use and position sensitive;
i.e. one must be directly in front of device. If body is
jarred or moved accuracy of device is compromised.
In January 2002, I went into respiratory failure; an emergency
tracheostomy was performed. From that point on I was
completely trapped in my body. Unable to move, now unable to
communicate, At this point I had no interest in living this
way. When I returned home from the hospital I frantically
searched for a device which would allow me to access my
computer with little or no movement. Using my communication
board, I told my wife, I found it. She looked at Neural
Impulse Actuator with skepticism, reminding me of previous
computer access devices I have used. When I received my Neural
Impulse Actuator and started using it, I told her there was no
comparisons of Neural Impulse Actuator to any other computer
access devices on the market. One would think Neural Impulse
Actuator came from a Hollywood movie, but it did not. Team
BAT, thank you for giving me so much back which ALS has taken
from me. I now can use a computer like any other able person.
I am now communicating with family and friends, taking online
classes, doing my banking and much-much more, all fast and
efficient. Best of all, I can use my computer in any position,
while having PT, in the van etc. Neural Impulse Actuator is
Oh, my nurses said thank you; they do not have to use
communication board any more.
Again, thank you,
am a person with ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I was
diagnosed in 1991 and I had to go on a ventilator in late
1995. I have been under the care of Dr. Joshua Benditt since
1994. Today I am completely paralyzed from head to toe except
for my eyes and jaw. I need 24 hour skilled nursing care. I
have been lucky to live at home with the full support of my
wife Urmi, daughter Devki, and son Vishal. ALS progressively
paralyzes all the voluntary muscles.
The most crucially important thing in having an acceptable
quality of life for me was the ability to access and control a
computer. This would give me a way to communicate, be
productive and access the world. When I lost the use of my
hands, I used the mouse with my foot. As the disease
progressed, I had to resort to more and more sensitive
switches which I could click with a minute movement of the
head. Finally, at the end of 2000, I had lost all ability to
activate any physical switches.
That’s when I discovered the quality-of-life saving Neural
Impulse Actuator! Neural Impulse Actuator, the brain actuated
computer interface. It's quite amazing! At it's most
elementary level, a headband picks up voltage created by
muscle movements such as jaw close and eyebrow lift to cause a
click or switch close action. At it's most sophisticated it
picks up certain brain waves to click, point and control a
I am currently using Neural Impulse Actuator to operate my
Wivik on screen keyboard. Works great! Andrew Junker has been
very helpful in getting me going in just one day. Besides the
obvious breakthrough technology, the software is very
thoughtfully designed and easy to use for the profoundly
disabled. It can be fine tuned in several ways to pick up the
I use Neural Impulse Actuator to activate as on-screen
keyboard, Wivik, which allows me to speak, write and work with
Windows programs. I manage the family finances using Microsoft
Money, communicate with family in India using Microsoft
Outlook, research anything and everything using Internet
Explorer. These types of programs have been a great
contributor to my quality of life and also have made me more
than a little bit productive. I am currently working on
several projects. I am helping an Indian firm develop special
communications software for Dr. Stephen Hawking. I am beta
testing next generation Wivik software from the Bloorview
McMillian Children’s Center in Ontario .
Neural Impulse Actuator has made my life fun again!
with the help of Stefan Dellenborg and others, has achieved
successful communication using the Neural Impulse Actuator.
Therese is 24 years old and has severe Cerebral Palsy. Prior
to using the Neural Impulse Actuator she could not use any
computer access device for communication. Initial work with
the Neural Impulse Actuator indicated that she could not
successfully control the device with forehead muscle
activation. Control was next attempted with various brainwave
signals. After a month of practice with the Neural Impulse
Actuator she could control a brainwave frequency band centered
at 21.25 Hz with consistency.
She now uses an on-screen keyboard called Clicker 4. The
Clicker 4 software is setup to run in a scan and click mode.
The software displays grids with symbols shown in the grids.
The symbols are part of what is called “bliss symbols”. The
software scans through the grids and Therese increases the
brain frequency amplitude at the appropriate time to cause the
amplitude to cross a threshold, which results in sending a
click signal to Clicker 4. Today Therese can type text and
express what she wants and what she feels. For more
information and photos of Therese.
Note: This user has Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). She is a
computer program that is now able to work 8 hours and not be
hampered by RSI because she can achieve computer control by
combining the Neural Impulse Actuator with Naturally Speaking
Just a very quick note to thank you again for the long-gesture
toggle between full mouse and multiple clicks launch. I am
using it constantly and am extremely thankful every time I use
it! It really is changing my work pattern and making it much
easier to read and concentrate on what I'm trying to do. It is
also very useful for stabilizing the mouse even if I'm not
particularly interested in the exact location of it.
I tried to achieve the same thing with voice macros, but the
result was not nearly as good because during the elapsed time
the mouse moved so I could not pinpoint a target and leave the
mouse position on it. This is nearly instantaneous and the jaw
gestures are very subtle and not uncomfortable so they did not
discourage very frequent transitions between modes. I really
hadn't conceived of such a frequent switching of modes and its
advantages until the future actually appeared.
The other thing I have discovered is that the Naturally
Speaking feature that used to drive me nuts which is that it
actually gets focus to a control when you click with your
voice, works wonderfully for positioning the mouse which I
then freeze at that location with the Neural Impulse Actuator
allowing me to repeat the action (for example when ignoring
changes using grammar check in Microsoft Word).
Anyway, I am still getting a little surge of excitement every
time it works although I'm sure eventually I will take for
Thanks again, Deborah”
Note: This user had a spinal cord injury and had no means of
computer access until they found the Neural Impulse Actuator.
Christer, a Norwegian in his early twenties, had a serious
accident in the summer of ’98. After critical care he was
transferred to the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Haukeland
University Hospital for rehabilitation. He suffered a spinal
cord injury at the C1 level, and is paralyzed from his head
down. He is not able to speak, and he is using a ventilator.
His vision is reduced, and initially he frequently had to
cover up one eye due to infection. In addition the injury
caused a cognitive disorder, and Christer has problems with
his memory. Initially, the only way to communicate with
Christer was by asking yes/no questions, and he would answer
by moving his eyes.
One of our challenges was to find a way for him to control a
computer. This would not only be important for communication,
but would also give him the possibility to control his
environment (stereo, TV, VCR). First we tried a muscle-sensor
placed between his eyebrows. Raising his eyebrows would then
trigger the sensor and give a signal to the computer.
This worked, but it had some major drawbacks. The sensor had
to be placed very accurately in the correct position. The gain
of the sensor had to be adjusted before every session, and it
often had to be readjusted during the session. After a few
minutes of use, his muscles started to tire. Small
muscle-spasms would then develop, and these spasms would
trigger the sensor and give false signals. As a total, this
solution did not function. It was too difficult to set-up, and
even when set-up properly it was not reliable enough. At this
time we were constantly searching for better switches. We
tried a few other arrangements, but nothing worked well
After about a year, we ran across the Neural Impulse Actuator.
Even though we thought the Neural Impulse Actuator primarily
was intended for more complex use then what Christer was ready
for, we soon realized Neural Impulse Actuator’s great
potential as a single switch. Here we had a sensor that was
truly flexible. We could customize filters, threshold-values
and more for our requirements, and the headband was easy to
put on. We learned that the system did not require any further
calibration prior to each session. And best of all, the system
was very accurate. After an initial trial-period, we had a few
suggestions for improvements that would benefit our user
greatly. We contacted BAT, and they were willing to update the
software and incorporate our suggestions.
The result is great! Christer is now using the Neural Impulse
Actuator on a daily basis. Primarily it is used for
communication, together with an on-screen keyboard (Flexisoft)
and scan. Letters are then sent to MS-word, were he may print
out the result when finished. The computer is also used for
educational purposes, and he has weekly sessions with his
teacher. In addition, he can control the CD player, play mp3
music-files, control a TV-tuner and look through pictures in
his own digital photo-album. When we started using the Neural
Impulse Actuator, we didn’t know what to expect. By this time
Christer had some bad experience, and he did not enjoy using
the computer at all. With the Neural Impulse Actuator, we
initially focused on confidence building. Slowly, Christer
started enjoying working with the computer again. He learned
new tasks much quicker than we expected, and he is now
performing way beyond our wildest expectations.
Haukeland University Hospital
(not her actual name) is an18-year-old girl, and a student at
Success for Kids School, Loma Linda CA. Struck by a motor
vehicle at the age of 11, she suffered a traumatic brain
injury, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia and scoliosis.
She was diagnosed in a Persistive Vegetative State (PVS)
following emergency treatment at the time of the accident.
Before training on the Neural Impulse Actuator she could track
visually, use eye-blink to indicate yes/no and use switches
with physical prompting but displayed no voluntary motor
Success for Kids School started training her on the Neural
Impulse Actuator. She quickly acquired skill in moving the
cursor in the vertical axis with only verbal prompts. By
training day 28, the attending neurologist observed the trials
and removed the PVS diagnosis. Short story materials were
introduced on day 43. She was able to use the Neural Impulse
Actuator click function to turn 'pages' in the on-screen book.
By training day 155, she demonstrated reliable control of the
vertical, horizontal and diagonal movement of the cursor. This
enabled her to utilize the computer mouse to operate several
instructional software programs. She continues to need some
verbal prompting to complete tasks, but has demonstrated more
frequent independence. At training day 150, she lifted her arm
to place her hand on a switch to turn on a tape player. This
response was not part of the training program.
17 years of age, suffered traumatic brain injury, and was in a
coma for 8 months. As a result, he had very little control of
his environment and minimal speech and language skills. Dr.
Mary Christen has used the Neural Impulse Actuator with Jeremy
approximately 3 days per week, one or two sessions per day,
and 20 minutes per session. Since using the Neural Impulse
Actuator, Dr. Christen and Jeremy’s mother report that he is
showing signs of improvement in both fine and gross motor
skills, and improvement in the quality and quantity of speech
and language, something that had not been happening prior to
the introduction of the Neural Impulse Actuator. Jeremy had
little or no control of his environment before his exposure to
the Neural Impulse Actuator. He is now successful at
controlling a computer with the Neural Impulse Actuator and
able to pursue leisure time activity (playing of video games
etc.) that look like activities performed by an able bodied
name is Robertl. In November of 1996 I was diagnosed with ALS.
As I watched my body melt away, I searched for ways to adapt
to my constantly changing body. This disease doesn't stop at
just the arms and legs. It also affects speech, swallowing,
and ultimately breathing. For about a year and a half I was
able to use a laser light fastened to a hat and a letter
board. That system worked for a while but I knew I would need
some other kind of communication device but my search didn't
turn up with anything that worked very well or that would
satisfy my particular needs. I was at the end of my rope. I
wondered how long I could go on without being able to
communicate. Communication is part of what makes us human. I
was very discouraged.
Then my nephew discovered Neural Impulse Actuator. My first
thought was here we go again, another disappointment. I was
never so wrong in my life. With very little practice I found
myself moving around my computer screen easily. I use my eyes
to move the cursor left and right and my eyebrows for up and
down movement and my jaw for clicking. The ability to
communicate was stolen away from me by ALS, Neural Impulse
Actuator has given it back to me. When combined with EZ Keys
there isn't anything I can't do on my computer. I can spend
however much of my life I have left, talking with family and
friends, which has improved my quality of life tremendously.
My days went from long and meaningless to short and
fulfilling. I urge anyone with impaired motor skills to give
it a try.”
Parker writes: “One of our students ("Ronni" not her actual
name), 24 years of age, suffered a traumatic brain injury nine
years ago. She has spastic quadriplegia, no head control, and
no speech and is unable to sit unsupported. Both her upper and
lower extremities are severely contracted from the years of
spasticity. There is no facial movement. She is unable to even
swallow her saliva. She is tube fed. She is just beginning to
be able to make guttural noises.
When released from the hospital she remained in a comatose
state with response to painful stimulus. Over the years and
with numerous interventions she has very slightly improved in
responsiveness. She turns her head and eyes in the direction
of familiar voices. She moves her thumb upward in response to
questions 20 percent of the time. She extends her right lower
extremity on command 30 percent of the time. However, she also
holds the right lower extremity extended for up to an hour at
a time for no apparent reason.
She has been unable to consistently answer questions or
interact with family or peers. We continued to feel that there
was some type of awareness but could not find a way for her to
consistently demonstrate that she did have an increased level
In August of 2001 she received her Neural Impulse Actuator
with a laptop computer. At that time when connected to the
Neural Impulse Actuator unit only the low frequency theta
waves and alpha waves registered any type of movement. When
using the slow ball game she was able to connect most often
using the theta waves. She was able to move the paddle up and
down in pong also using the theta waves.
She worked a half hour five days a week on the Neural Impulse
Actuator system as a part of her school program. She played
slow ball, pong and grow. By December we were seeing sporadic
movement in the beta wave graph when she used the Neural
Impulse Actuator. During the slow ball game she was able to
connect with the white ball occasionally at the beta wave
level. While observing her in April it became apparent that
the activity at the beta level has now surpassed the alpha
level. She is now using Brain Channel F9 to control the mouse
click and the paddle in pong. The speed of the ball was
reduced and she is now able to beat the computer at pong.
There continues to be no facial response from her. Her upper
and lower extremities remain rigid and she has no head
control. She does vocalize much more, apparently when things
are not happening the way she would like. Because of the
Neural Impulse Actuator we have a way to test her level of
consciousness. She is able to exert control over something. We
are hoping she will reach a level of consistency that will
allow her to use the Neural Impulse Actuator for simple yes/no
communication. The Neural Impulse Actuator has given us
something for her to work on in the school setting. Until now
the only thing we were able to provide to her was custodial
Deb Parker PTA
Millet Learning Center
Saginaw, MI 48601
The increasing sophistication of computer programs and
communication systems requires the development of more
efficient, intuitive and interactive human-computer input
Similarly, computer hardware is miniaturizing; becoming less
cumbersome and more portable at an incredible rate. What was
on your desktop yesterday, is on your laptop or palmtop today
and will be on your wrist watch or ring tomorrow…fully
integrated with your home PC and the NET.
Imagine having to carry a ‘qwerty’ keyboard and mouse in your
briefcase or pocketbook to use with your wrist watch computer
and eyeglass monitor! Input devices will have to miniaturize
as well and become more direct, intuitive and able to be used
while your hands (and part of your attention) are engaged
Neural Impulse Actuator Solution represents this next step in
the evolution of the human-computer input interface. The
system is a Brain-Body actuated control technology that
combines eye-movement, facial muscle, and brain wave
bio-potentials detected at the user’s forehead to generate
computer inputs that can be used for a variety of tasks and
The forehead is a convenient, noninvasive measuring site rich
in a variety of bio-potentials. Signals detected by three
plastic sensors in a headband are sent to an interface box
which contains a bio-amplifier and signal processor. The
interface box connects to the PC computer’s serial port. The
forehead signals are amplified, digitized and translated by a
patented decoding algorithm into multiple command signals,
creating an efficient, intuitive and easily learned hands-free
Three different types or channels of control signals are
derived from the forehead signal in the interface box. The
lowest frequency channel is called the ElectroOculoGraphic or
EOG signal. This is a frequency region of the forehead
bio-potential that is responsive primarily to eye movements.
The EOG signal is typically used to detect left and right eye
motion. This signal can be mapped to left and right cursor
motion or on/off switch control.
The second type of control signal is called the
ElectroEncephaloGraphic or EEG signal. The Neural Impulse
Actuator Software furhter subdivides this region into ten
component frequency bands called ‘Brain Channels’. These
frequencies reflect internal mental/brainwave activity as well
as subtle facial muscle activity. A wide range of facial
muscles affect these frequency bands. Users typically learn
control of their Brain Channels first through subtle tensing
and relaxing of various muscles including forehead, eye and
jaw muscles. After a little experience with the Neural Impulse
Actuator System, most users begin to experiment with more
efficient, internal brain-based control methods. Since this
frequency region is sensitive to both mental and muscular
signals it is called the ‘BrainBody’ signal.
Brain Channel control is continuous or analog and is typically
used for such things as control of cursor vertical or
horizontal movement. For example, one Brain Channel may be
used to control vertical movement while a second Brain Channel
(or other signal channel) is used to control horizontal
The third channel is called the ElectroMyoGraphic or EMG
signal. The EMG signal primarily reflects facial muscle
activity. It is typically used in the Neural Impulse Actuator
System for discrete on/off control of program commands, switch
closures, keyboard commands, the functions of the left and
right mouse buttons, and up/down cursor motion.
In a Neural Impulse Actuator discrete control study conducted
by the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force
Base in Dayton, Ohio, subjects’ reaction times to visual
stimuli were found to be 15% faster with the Neural Impulse
Actuator EMG button than with a manual button.
Specific facial and eye movement gestures can be discriminated
by the Neural Impulse Actuator software and mapped to separate
mouse, keyboard, and program functions.
The continuous and discrete control capabilities of your Brain
Channels can be mapped to computer events in the Launch window
of the Neural Impulse Actuator software. This hands-free mouse
enables the user to steer the cursor, change its speed and
resolution, perform left and right mouse button functions, and
send keyboard characters and character string commands.
In a recent study, users were able to use their Neural Impulse
Actuator to position and click the cursor over randomly
appearing 32 x 32 pixel (icon-sized) targets in 4 seconds or
Mapping your Neural Impulse Actuator to computer events makes
hands-free two-axis control possible not only with the Neural
Impulse Actuator specific games and applications, but also
with third-party software; including popular interactive
games, word processors, spread sheets, and Computer-Aided
Design programs as well as special-needs software such as
Words Plus EZ Keys, WiViK, Clicker, Reach, IntelliTools and
Dynovox. Brain Channel control can be used for hands-free
environmental control using an X-10 Home Controller relay for
example to switch on and off an electric light, appliance, or
For individuals with limited control of their facial muscles,
the Neural Impulse Actuator software can be formatted to use
BrainBody or EOG inputs (instead of EMG) to activate switch
closures and mouse button clicks.
The Neural Impulse Actuator Solution provides an intuitive,
direct, easily learned, hands-free, language-independent
universal control interface. It represents a cutting-edge
technological achievement in the user-computer interface
making possible new computer control methods to empower the
disabled and all users of tomorrow’s technology.
Neural Impulse Actuator Software
Although this website is not intended as a tutorial, we would
like to show you the basics of how our software works. It
consists of two main window groups; the Neural Impulse
Actuator window group, and the Launch window group. The Neural
Impulse Actuator windows teach you how to create "conscious
control" of your Brain Channels or signals detected at your
forehead with the headband. Several applications and games are
included to help further understand and control your Brain
Channels. After learning consistent control, the Launch
windows are used to control the desktop and run third party
description of the software along with a few examples of
actual Neural Impulse Actuator users are shown below.
Brain Channel Display Window
thruB3 -- Lateral Eye Movement
thru B6 -- Alpha Brain Resonance
thru B10; Beta Brain Resonance
Impulse Actuator Training Windows
Channel-Switch Adjust and Practice Window
Keyboard Practice Window
Billiards Game Window
Maze Game (Labyrinth) Window
Channel-Mouse Setup and Practice
Brain Channel Display Window
Brain Channel Display Window has two components: Brain
Channels and the BrainBody signal.
The top component has the most practical use for people new to
this system and is composed of three color-coded groups of
Brain Channels plus the yellow Muscle Brain Channel.
Learning how to control some or all of the four Brain Channel
groups allows hands free control of the mouse's curser and
computer. The BrainBody display at the bottom of the Neural
Impulse Actuator Explorer window represents the signal from
the user's forehead and is used to produce the first ten Brain
Let’s now take a closer look at the Brain Channel Display
Window. Brain Channels are grouped into four sections which
are fully user programmable. For most people, the Neural
Impulse Actuator can be easily mastered by using the basic B2
and Muscle configurations. Because the software is fully
configurable, people with special needs can also learn to
control their computers using less common adjustments.
Brain Channel sections are as follows:
B1 thru B3 -- Lateral Eye Movement:
The lowest three Brain Channels are most responsive to lateral
eye movements. For those of you who can easily control your
eyes, we recommend using the B2 Brain Channel to control the
left and right movements of your computer’s cursor.
In this Brain Channel display window, Joyce, the Current User,
"became quiet" for a few moments and allowed all of her Brain
Channels to "settle down." She then rapidly moved her eyes to
the right which generated the Brain Channel B2 response.
thru B6 -- Alpha Brain Resonance:
The middle three Brain Channels are generally responsive to
Alpha brain wave signals (along with minute electrical energy
generated from faint muscle movements in and around the
Even though most users find it easier to control either the
B7-thru-B10 or the Yellow Muscle Signal we feel it is valuable
to practice controlling the Alpha Brain Channel in preparation
for using B7-thru-B10 Beta Brain Channels.
Possible techniques for learning Alpha control are to relax
your neck muscles and eye muscles, and quiet your mind. With a
little practice a feeling can be observed that relates to an
increase in the Alpha Brain Channels. We define this feeling
as an “Alpha State.” Once this feeling is learned it can be
used to enhance B7-thru-B10 Beta Brain Channel control.
The Brain Channel display window shown represents a specific
moment in time for David, an experienced Neural Impulse
Actuator user. To achieve the result shown, he intentionally
generated an Alpha "resonance" at Brain Channel B5. To
describe how he created this Brain Channel response, David
said, “I relaxed the muscles in my face and neck, softened my
eye muscles, and imagined there was an umbrella of quietness
around my head.
thru B10; Beta Brain Resonance:
The B7-B10 Brain Channel range is available to users who have
problems controlling facial muscles or who have difficulty
controlling their muscle signal.
This range is sensitive to both “mental intention” and
“broad-band muscle activity,” and combines with the user’s
lessened muscle activity just enough to boost control of one
of the B7-B10 Brain Channels (described below).
Brain Channel control can also be enhanced by using the “Alpha
state” to create a “foundation” or “baseline.” Since “Alpha”
is generally considered to be a “quiet mental state,” Alpha
can be used from which to move into an active "mental
state/subtle physical state" to intensify the desired Beta
The yellow B11 Muscle Signal is the easiest of all the Brain
Channels to bring under conscious control. It is the signal
most people use for to control the up/down movement of the
cursor and to control "clicking."
For this screen shot, Joyce allowed all her Brain Channels to
settle and then simply lifted an eyebrow to elevate the B11
Brain Channel. She can also generate the Muscle Brain Channel
by tightening her jaw or by pressing her tongue onto the roof
of her mouth.
Channels Training Windows
One of the Neural Impulse Actuator strongest features is its
adaptability. Depending upon the user’s ability or even upon
the user’s level of disability, a computer can be fully
controlled by defining which Brain Channels to use.
Once the user becomes familiar with the various Brain Channel
sections, the user can then begin to explore different ways to
control and click the mouse. Some of the windows that are used
to learn to control clicking and mouse movement are presented
Brain Channel-Switch Adjust and Practice Window
The Brain Channel software allows you to choose from any one
of the 11 Brain Channels to become your computer mouse's
"click button." An example of the Switch Adjust and Practice
window is where you learn how to click and practice. The
majority of people choose the yellow B11 Muscle Brain Channel
for click-control because it is the both the quickest and
easiest to learn; however, any one of the other Brain Channels
can be used. For example, people who have little or no facial
muscle control or people with involuntary muscle activity can
use one of the other Brain Channels for click-control.
Although the following demonstration windows may appear
daunting at first glance, they will become familiar and easy
to use after only a few practice sessions.
The Neural Impulse Actuator software allows you to create both
"single" and "multiple" clicks. The Cyber-Switch window above
shows an example of a multiple- click response. In this
example, David first created a long click; then two short
clicks in succession. This screen-shot was taken right after
the software recognized " two clicks" as indicated by the Left
double-click message above the two clicks. The software
recognizes the difference between a " click" and a " long
click" by determining the time David makes the click stay
above the Click Line. Multiple clicks are therefore determined
by the time between clicks. Of course, all these values are
There are many advantages to being able to control both single
and multiple clicks using the Neural Impulse Actuator. Anytime
you bring your click Brain Channel above the Click Line, you
generate "clicks." Here are just a few examples of what can be
done using Neural Impulse Actuator's hands-free click-control
a single click is ideal for control of scan and click
a double-click results in sending a left double mouse click to
your computer and to whatever third-party software you are
triple-click generates a "click and drag" which can then be
"dropped" anywhere on the desktop or to whatever third-party
software you are using.
four-clicks in succession results in a right-mouse click.
cursor can be toggled between high speed/low resolution and
low speed/high resolution which makes it easier to click on
small icons and other small targets.
As always, you can compensate for un-intentional muscle spasms
and un-intentional repeated clicking by simply adjusting the
Keyboard Practice Window
As part of the Neural Impulse Actuator Explorer software, the
On-Screen Keyboard is included for users to practice
scan-and-click and point-and-click text entry as well to
practice communicating using the software's powerful
hands-free features. Shown below is a screen-shot of David's
Keyboard/Button Control window in scan-and-click mode. David
has just selected the letter “d” to be added to the already
selected text “Hello worl” The scanning in this case went
first by row, then by half row, and finally by letter. Note
that the window gives you actual visual feedback of the click
More than a learning tool, the Keyboard Buttons/Control menu
allows you a number of ways to communicate. A full- keyboard
layout can be selected as well as the option of using male or
female voice synthesizers to "speak" what was typed.
As with all Neural Impulse Actuator windows, the Keyboard
Buttons/Control window is fully user adjustable. For example,
if David clicked on the menu item Click Adjust, he could
adjust his click-signal's sensitivity and baseline position as
well as the timing and minimum click width (which regulates
the mode of click).
Included in the Neural Impulse Actuator Explorer package is
the Click Game, which we developed as part of our National
Institutes of Health (NIH) study. The game was created in
order to collect performance data from the study's
participants and although it is quite simple to use, we found
that it became a good training tool and was valuable for
quantifying a user's clicking ability and performance.
The goal of the game is to create a "hands-free" mouse click
over one of four randomly appearing targets which will make it
disappear. When the game is started, all four of the above
colored targets disappear. As the targets randomly appear, the
software waits for you to move the mouse "create" a click
which will make the target disappear.
The response times are saved and summary statistics are given
at the end of the game including a time history which can be
accessed from the game's menu.
Billiards Game Window
Included with Neural Impulse Actuator Explorer software is
Billiard Neural Impulse Actuator, another valuable tool for
learning how to control and hone your brainwaves. Valuable for
all new users who are learning to control their Brain
Channels, Billiard Neural Impulse Actuator can be especially
valuable for users with severe disabilities, such as for those
with traumatic brain Injury as well as for people who may not
appear to hear or understand instructions.
This is how it works: When you start the game, a yellow ball
appears at the right side of the screen and slowly moves
horizontally to the left. The object of the game is to move
each of the 10 Brain Channel balls to intersect with the
yellow ball. When successful, the software fills in the center
of the ball as a confirmation that the ball was hit. This is
how the balls are controlled:
The tops of the first 10 Brain Channel values (F1 – F10) are
mapped to the ten colored balls.
Thus, if you move your eyes laterally, left or right, the
three blue balls will move up.
If you intensify either your mental activity and/or your
muscle activity, the four red balls will move up.
In most cases if you relax, all the balls will go down.
Once you learn to generate an Alpha relaxation, it becomes
possible to elevate the three green balls while all the other
balls go down.
As always, based upon specific needs, each of the Brain
Channel values may be user defined.
The Grow Game is another introductory game for learning how to
control the cursor. Because it uses both visual and auditory
feedback, it offers simple yet compelling feedback as a
selected Brain Channel is controlled.
In this example, the small red square in the slide bar
represents a chosen Brain Channel. Once the game is started,
the colored circle grows when the signal (the red square in
the left rectangle) goes above the green baseline. When the
signal goes below the green baseline, the circle shrinks. As
the circle changes size, musical notes are played which offers
additional learning feedback.
This easy-to-use training tool allows you to select either the
Up/Down or the Left/Right axis and which Brain Channel to
control. Because The Grow Game gives such easy-to-understand
visual and auditory feedback, it is a good learning tool for
everyone; especially for people with severe disabilities. As
with almost all of our software, helpers for severely disabled
users can easily adjust the user's signal.
of you may remember one of the earlier computer games called
Pong. We recreated the game and included it in Neural Impulse
Actuator Explorer because it is such an excellent way to learn
how to control a single axis.
As shown in this example, the user controls the up/down paddle
on the left and the computer controls the up/down paddle on
the right. You can also reverse the axis to practice
controlling a paddle on the bottom that moves left/right. You
can change the game’s paddle size, the ball size and speed,
and the computer’s “expertise.” As with all our software,
adjustments are easily made through the Adjust Menu allowing
you to control the signal and to map any one of the 11 Brain
Channels to control the paddle.
This is how it works: Success in the game requires that you be
able to intensify your Brain Channel to move the paddle up or
to the right, depending upon what axis you are controlling,
and to relax to move the paddle down or to the left. When
engaged in the game the excitement of the ball coming towards
your paddle tends to stimulate an emotional reaction, which
adds an interesting complexity to the gaming experience.
In addition, each time you successfully return the ball or the
computer returns the ball, the speed of the ball increases.
Thus in the face of the excitement of the game you have to
learn to control the paddle while being able to stay calm in
order to “win.”
As with all the games included in Neural Impulse Actuator
Explorer, the user is actually learning the necessary skills
to control a curser’s up/down and left/right movement.
Maze Game (Labyrinth) Window
Maze Game teaches you how to control the cursor’s up-down and
left-right movement thorough a maze. With the cursor starting
in the lower right hand corner of the screen, the task is to
move it through the maze to reach the home box in the upper
left hand corner.
Along with other skill-building “games,” the Maze teaches how
to control two axes at the same time. It is designed to hone
motor skills and to give feedback on how the user is doing.
Using its built-in timer, the user can now begin to quantify
the speed by which the cursor is controlled and the “success”
that is achieved.
As with most other Neural Impulse Actuator Explorer windows,
the user is given the ability to adjust the characteristics of
individual Brain Channels being used to control the cursor.
For example, cursor speed, sensitivity and baseline shift can
be adjusted to affect the way the cursor moves in response to
Brain Channel inputs. The game further prepares the user to
actually control the mouse cursor on the desktop and thereby
to control third party applications.
Channels-Mouse Setup and Practice
increasingly comfortable with “clicking” and “moving the
cursor in two axes,” the Cyber-Mouse Setup and Practice screen
helps to combine; then refine, coordinate and control mouse
movement and clicking.
In the window shown above, David just finished executing a
long click that toggled cursor speed to “slow speed/high
resolution.” The result is that the cursor now moves slower,
and the message “Slow Speed” appears in the upper left corner
of the cursor window. Note the yellow click line: In response
to the click, the software presented the “Left Single Click”
message and stopped the cursor for a user-designated length of
Just as with other windows, the user can adjust the Brain
Channel settings for optimum personalized control. For
instance: Under “Click Adjust,” the user can adjust the
sensitivity and baseline of the click signal, as well as to
adjust the various timing parameters that affect multiple
click responsiveness. Under “Pointing Adjust,” the user can
also select (along with other things) her/his desired cursor
sensitivity, speed, and baseline shift.
As cursor and clicking becomes both easier and quicker, our
mouse controlled games become increasingly fun to play and
easier to master. More importantly as these skills are
developed, the user is encouraged to use the CAT where the
desktop is entered and third party programs are accessed…like
being able to surf the internet!
of the most fun and challenging computer games of all time,
Tetris is provided to test and improve your ability to control
your cursor and clicking. The task is to completely fill, from
the bottom to the top, as many rows as possible using the
“box-sets” that appear in different configurations at the top
of the screen. As the box-sets appear one-by-one and slowly
move downward toward the bottom, you control the left/right
position of the Tetris box-set with your Left/Right cursor
controlled Brain Channel. You can rotate the box-set with a
click and you make the box-set drop to the bottom with a long
In the game above, David intentionally completed just one row
and partially built up the other rows to illustrate what the
game would look like. He was working with the yellow box set
in the upper right of the playing field just before the
picture was taken. The game is fun to play but be careful. As
many players have discovered, Tetris can become addictive!
Launch Buttons Editor
As basic skills are developed and refined, users can select
and run virtually any program on their computer by using the
Add/Edit Launch Buttons Editor. This window allows the user to
select and name a computer program which appears as a “Launch
Button.” For example, in the window above, David created a
Launch Button for a program he wants to use hands-free and
named it EZKeys Scan Windows XP.
The Add/Launch Buttons Editor also allows users to specify how
they want to control the mouse and clicking. In the example
above, David wanted EZKeys to respond to a right mouse click
from the Neural Impulse Actuator. Thus, he selected Mode 4
(one of five modes of click-control possible).
Users can “map” Neural Impulse Actuator clicks (both short and
long) to virtually any keyboard characters. For example, B11
could be selected for the Wivik program. The left arrow key
could be selected for the Clicker-4 program (programs
typically used by people with disabilities). Users can also
specify if cursor movements are to be ”on or off” for the two
axes of control. For example, the window above is set for
“scan & click-control,” so the cursor movement buttons are
Computer Assistance Worth Waiting For:
undeniably takes time for new users to learn how to use Brain
Channels but the time invested in learning how to use this
software is time well spent. Once the user finds a
click-control mode that works consistently, the entire
software package can be set to run totally hands-free.
In the hands-free mode, each program window displays an
additional menu that is controlled hands-free by your Neural
Impulse Actuator click. In the window shown above, David is
now controlling his computer completely hands-free. David
selected “Cyber-Switch” which brought up the Cyber-Switch sub
menu. Note that “Typing” is highlighted in yellow. If David
were to generate a click while “Typing” is highlighted, the
Neural Impulse Actuator will open the “Typing” program.
Users have hands-free access to all the windows of the Neural
Impulse Actuator software including making large and
fine-tuning adjustments to all of Brain Channel’s settings,
mapping, and scanning rates. In fact, anything that can be
done with a mouse and a click can be done completely
hands-free. By using the Launch window, the user can navigate
to previously set launch buttons; start up, and run selected
applications, totally hands-free.
MindReader TM Neural Impulse Actuator
Hands-free Computer Access