The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

Spectators will experience the fascinating power of thought-controlled systems on 17 September, as teams from all over the world go head to head in the CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019 at TU Graz. ‘Pilots’ who are paralysed from the neck down control avatars using brain-computer interfaces in a specially developed computer game. Tickets for race day are now available.

Woman with electrode cap in front of computer screens with games

At the CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019 on 17 September at TU Graz, pilots guide avatars through a virtual course by thought © Lunghammer – TU Graz

‘Pilots’ with physical impairments, who control computer avatars with their thoughts, will demonstrate how far brain-computer interface (BCI) research has come as they compete in live events at CYBATHLON. During the contest, which was launched by ETH Zurich, people with disabilities caused by bone marrow injury, stroke or other neurological conditions show just what robotics and neurotechnology are capable of, and how assistance technologies will be able to provide support in day-to-day life. TU Graz is hosting the CYBATHLON Series this year. “By staging this event, we’ve succeeded in bringing the BCI ‘world cup’ to Graz,” explains organiser Gernot Müller-Putz, head of the Institute of Neural Engineering at TU Graz.

The BCI race will take place at TU Graz in front of a live audience, as the ‘pilots’ use their thoughts to guide an avatar around a virtual track and reach the finishing line as quickly as possible. “We will see, under competitive conditions, which research team has developed its system and fine-tuned it to the pilot most effectively,” says Müller-Putz, a BCI expert. The challenge lies in capturing brain signals correctly, because “the ‘pilots’ can only move the avatar to the finishing line quickly if the right brain signal is sent at the right time and properly captured,” Müller-Putz adds.

TU Graz’s BCI working group is one of Europe’s leading research groups in the field of computer-assisted interpretation of brain waves and their translation into electrical impulses for prostheses, robotic prosthetic arms and speech output programs. So it is no coincidence that ETH Zurich’s CYBATHLON BCI Series is coming to Graz, or that the city hosts one of the most important conferences on brain-computer interfaces every two years.

The aim is that insights generated by the CYBATHLON BCI Series and other initiatives will prompt advances in BCI technology that in future will enable people with serious motor impairments to operate devices such as computers, neuroprosthetics and wheelchairs using brain-computer interfaces.

CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

Time: 17th September, 10 am to 5.30 pm
Location: TU Graz, Campus Neue Technik, lecture hall P1, Petersgasse 16, EG, 8010 Graz
Tickets: eventbrite.de (German only, Tickets cost EUR 7 for school pupils, students and apprentices, and EUR 10 for adults)

More information on the CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019
Website of the Institute of Neural Engineering
Press release about the CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019