Toward an Inclusive Society for All:
Ushiba Lab Shows the Power of Brain Waves at the BMI Brainpic 2022

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On Saturday, November 19, 2022, the sixth floor of Shibuya department store PARCO hosted “BMI Brainpic 2022,” an e-sports event where students competed using brain waves. The event was organized by the Junichi Ushiba Laboratory at the Faculty of Science and Technology and the moonshot R&D project “Internet of Brains (IoB),” in which Prof. Ushiba is directly involved.

Brain-machine interfaces (BMI) are computational mechanisms that can translate neuronal activity into commands capable of operating external devices. BMIs have attracted attention in the fields of medicine, welfare, and nursing care for using brain waves to connect the brain to machines and assist physical movement. The Ushiba Laboratory is engaged in BMI research that integrates the brain sciences and AI from basic research to practical application. The BMI Brainpic is an open demonstration of the power of BMI technology using a “PLUG,” a kind of electroencephalogram (EEG) headset developed by Ushiba’s lab.

Thirty-seven junior and senior high school students attended the event alongside two individuals with disabilities who had received BMI training. Members from Ushiba Lab also joined, using PLUGs to control characters in the online game Fortnite. Besides the competition, participants were able to measure their brain activity while drinks were served to guests using an electric wheelchair controlled by brain waves. Researchers, participants, and individuals with disabilities continued to engage in active discussions at a networking session after the event.

Professor Junichi Ushiba reflected on the event, saying, “This was our first time doing something like this, so our whole team was very nervous, but I am glad it went well. These students will shape the future of our society, so I’m happy they had the opportunity to experience BMI technology. Looking ahead, I’m hopeful that we can continue improving BMI to achieve a more equitable society.”

One participant remarked, “It was like watching the e-sports of the future, with everyone getting so excited playing games controlled by their brain waves.” Another commented, “I was surprised that the avatar moved even though my body stayed still. I’m just amazed by the technology. I think it can help create a society where we can all enjoy ourselves together, regardless of disability.” One participant with disabilities noted that being able to compete with non-disabled players was the best feeling. Another student mentioned their desire to do brain sciences research in the future and the impact of this experience on their interest. “I can’t wait to do research in brain science and technology,” they remarked.

(Photo: Prof. Ushiba in the front row at far right)

– Event Report 1

– Event Report 2

– Official Video