Aviator says it is all in the mind

16 Sep 2010
For more than 12 years the team at Aviator, a finalist in UQ Business School's $100,000 Enterprize business planning competition, has focused on developing a fast and unobtrusive hands-free control system for individuals with severe spinal cord injuries. The wireless technology, which converts brain signals into commands and can be used for systems such as wheelchairs, allows objects located several metres away to be controlled remotely. Project Manager Leigh Angus said the research team, led by Professor Hung Nguyen at University of Technology Sydney, identified a need for the technology after research showed unobtrusive assistive technology offering comparable or greater functionality for existing users was not currently on the market. "Aviator technology aims to provide an immediate solution for those with severe immobility, and the real-time nature of the system makes it ideal for directing a vehicle, such as a wheelchair," Leigh said. "Initially, we are focused on the hands free control of wheelchairs using head movement commands or electroencephalography (EEG) signals. Over time, we will extend this to control to external devices such as general appliances, toys and sensory devices for the disabled." The Aviator technology is designed for easy operation and could be customised to the specific needs of an individual. "A user simply wears a headband that has a transmitter and electrodes attached to it to control the functionality of systems such as wheelchairs. "This technology will allow individuals with severe spinal cord injuries to harness the freedom of their mind," Leigh continued. The technology has already received widespread interest throughout Australia and Leigh said the $100,000 prize would allow the team to undertake further prototype development, leading to greater investment and full-scale product implementation. "The Enterprize competition is a highly regarded national competition that has provided a jump start for numerous applicants, not just the winners. "The funds would allow us to leverage additional Commercialisation Australia Proof-of-Concept funding to help us to proceed to the next phase of commercialisation," she said. Aviator will compete against six other national finalists for the $100,000 prize at UQ Business School's Enterprize Pitch Day on Wednesday 20 October. Enterprize is a national business planning competition organised by UQ Business School to showcase innovative products and business models amongst potential investors. The Enterprize competition is proudly supported by i.lab Incubator, an organisation that aims to accelerate the growth of commercially sound, early stage technology ventures. i.lab is celebrating its tenth year in 2010 and has assisted over 100 companies progress from the start up phase to commercialisation. Enterprize is also sponsored by UniQuest, one of Australia's leading university commercialisation companies. For more information, entry requirements or to enter Enterprize please visit www.enterprize.uq.edu.au.