Researchers unveil new technologies

Brain wave detector that helps prevent tired driving and diagnose depression. 

During an event marking the upcoming 110th anniversary of Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Electronic Information and Electrical Engineering, two new technologies were unveiled by school researchers yesterday.

One of the technologies is a brain wave detector that helps prevent tired driving and diagnose depression.

With inductors applied to the driver’s head, the device is able to spot signs of fatigue and then sends out a warning.

“A brain wave index will rise drastically once the driver starts to feel drowsy, even before the driver himself actually starts to realize it,” said Lu Baoliang, a professor at the university and leader of the project.

Though the project has yet to be scientifically tested, data so far are quite promising, with accurate detection of fatigued driving reaching 80 percent, according to Lu.

Lu said the technology still has issues to resolve. “Brain waves vary from one individual to another,” Lu said. “We are now trying to make the system more intelligent so that it will be able to analyze different brain wave.”

To improve accuracy across subjects, the team deployed an algorithm which “teaches” the machine how to improvise based on previous data models.

Meanwhile, Lu’s team has also used brain wave detecting technology to evaluate and treat clinical depression.

“Most doctors just hand a list of questions for patients to fill out,” said Liu Wei, a PhD candidate on the team. “The diagnostic rate of depression in China is only 20 percent as most doctors can’t really tell if a patient is actually sick or just having a bad day.”

The team designed a series of cognition experiments to detect fluctuations in brain activity. The experience of emotions like happiness differs between people with depression and those without it, and this difference is reflected in brain waves, according to Liu.

Another research group from the university, led by professor Zhai Guangtao, has designed a virtual reality system for autistic children.

According to group-member Duan Huiyu, the system aims to improve basic life skills among autistic children. Using VR goggles, children view everyday items, like toothbrushes, and hold dialogues with virtual figures to learn how to use them.

The VR system is undergoing clinical trials at Shanghai Mental Health Center. So far, anecdotal evidence regarding the system’s efficacy is positive.

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