Kickstarter: EEG-Based Telepresence Robot Controller

You’re probably familiar with telepresence robot or two. We even had one rolling around the TechCrunch office for a while. They generally have fairly simple navigation interfaces: forward, back, turn left, turn right, and some controls for the camera and speaker. The trouble is that these controls are generally accessed by traditional means: keyboard, mouse, or handheld controller. And a major application of telepresence is allowing people unable to get around on their own to do so virtually. People with extremely limited mobility often aren’t able to reliably use their fingers or limbs, so custom systems using head inclination, blowing and sucking, and eye tracking are necessary.

Robert Oschler is a robot and telepresence enthusiast who has been making his own software for years. The latest version of his Robodance client adds support for the EPOC EEG-monitoring PC peripheral, and he’s hoping to get a little support on Kickstarter. Isn’t that something worth throwing a couple bucks at?

He’s been footing the bill for a long time, and I’m guessing the costs started adding up for this version. His software supports a number of robots but not many dedicated telepresence bots, which usually have their own private clients. The Rovio bot Oschler adores seems to have rather poor reviews on Amazon, unfortunately, but there’s no reason the software couldn’t be made to support other robots if they were selected by, say, a medical establishment.

In the end I think it’s just a worthwhile project, and could end up helping a few people in a very real way. I’d rather this guy was helped along in his quest than, say, some guy makes yet another designer iPad case. Check out the Kickstarter project here.