Brain–Computer Interfaces and Assistive Technology

  • Rüdiger RuppEmail author
  • Sonja C. Kleih
  • Robert Leeb
  • José del R. Millan
  • Andrea Kübler
  • Gernot R. Müller-Putz
Part of the The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology book series (ELTE, volume 12)


Assistive technology (AT) supports individuals with motor, sensory, or cognitive disabilities in performing functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible for them. In particular, individuals with severe motor impairments have a high need for assistive devices supporting access to information technologies, improving mobility, and restoring manipulation abilities. Established human–machine interfaces are dependent on the presence of a sufficient number of residual motor functions. Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are technical systems that provide a direct connection between the human brain and a computer and can serve as a user interface for the control of assistive devices. Historically, non-invasive BCIs were intended to provide basic communication skills to patients with locked-in syndrome. Since then BCI technology has evolved tremendously and nowadays BCIs are used as an alternative or additional control channel for many other applications. Among them are extended communication applications like accessing the internet or Brain Painting. Wheelchairs and telepresence robots can be navigated with the help of BCIs, and motor-imagery-based BCIs in particular are an attractive perspective for an intuitive neuroprosthesis control. The recent development of the hybrid BCI combining a BCI with other preserved control signals fits well in the user-centered design concept, since BCIs can be seamlessly integrated in traditional AT. Although current non-invasive BCIs are at the stage of entering people’s homes, they still cannot be operated by end-users alone. More home-based studies are needed to further improve the usability and reliability of BCIs and to better address specific needs and requirements of end-users.


Spinal Cord Injury Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patient Assistive Technology Functional Electrical Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rüdiger Rupp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonja C. Kleih
    • 2
  • Robert Leeb
    • 3
  • José del R. Millan
    • 3
  • Andrea Kübler
    • 2
  • Gernot R. Müller-Putz
    • 4
  1. 1.Spinal Cord Injury CenterUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  3. 3.Center for NeuroprostheticsÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute for Knowledge Discovery, Laboratory of Brain-Computer InterfacesGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria

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