Journal article

Vibrotactile Feedback for Brain-Computer Interface Operation

To be correctly mastered, Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) need an uninterrupted flow of feedback to the user. This feedback is usually delivered through the visual channel. Our aim is to explore the benefits of vibrotactile feedback during users� training and control of EEG-based BCI applications. A protocol for delivering vibrotactile feedback, including specific hardware and software arrangements, was specified. In three studies with 33 subjects (including 3 with spinal cord injury) we compared vibrotactile and visual feedback, addressing: (I) the feasibility of subjects� training to master their EEG rhythms using tactile feedback; (II) the compatibility of this form of feedback in presence of a visual distracter; and (III) the performance in presence of a complex visual task on the same (visual) or different (tactile) sensory channel. The stimulation protocol we developed supports a general usage of the tactors; preliminary experimentations. All studies indicated that the vibrotactile channel can function as a valuable feedback modality with reliability comparable to the classical visual feedback. Advantages of using a vibrotactile feedback emerged when the visual channel was highly loaded by a complex task. In all experiments, vibrotactile feedback felt (after some training) more natural for both controls and SCI users.

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