Court Reporters Control Robot With Their Minds

Court reporters with sensors implanted in their brains have learned to control a robot arm with their thoughts, using it to feed themselves with Diet Coke and crackers as well as mark exhibits, make dictionary entries, and, of course, take down testimony at over 200+ words per minute.

University of Modena School of Medicine scientists behind the experiment say it will lead to the creation of brain-controlled prosthetic limbs for amputees or patients with degenerative disorders or even deposition reporters capable of (finally) taking down more than one person speaking at a time.

“We are beginning to understand how the brain works using brain-machine interface technology,“ lead researcher Agnes Swiss wrote in the Robotic Science journal.

“The more we understand about the brain, the better we'll be able to treat a wide range of brain disorders, everything from Parkinson's disease and paralysis to, eventually Alzheimer's disease and perhaps mental illness.“

In the experiment, a pair of deposition reporters were fitted with electrodes the width of a human hair that transmitted signals from areas of the brain linked to movements.

The signals directed the arms to grasp Diet Coke and crackers and place it into their mouths in one natural-looking motion, the article said.

With their real arms still typing on the steno keyboard, the court reporters learned how to control the robotic arms in a matter of days, negotiating obstacles and tilting their heads and moving their eyes without affecting the robotic limbs.  One especially nice feature of this new skill is for the robotic arm to feed the court reporter during long deposition sessions.  “While everyone else in the room gets to use their hands to take sips of coffee or whatever,“ said court reporter Georgina Huff, “I have to keep writing.  My new robotic arm came to the rescue!  I can now take down testimony and feed myself snacks at the same time.  It's a real life saver.“

A court reporter controls a robotic arm.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

Leave a Comment

Your Name (Required)

Your Email (Required but will not be posted)

Please enter the following letters into the box:
(This is to help fight against spam. The letters are NOT case sensitive.)