Lots of eyes rolled on social media last Friday when news broke out of France that researchers had unveiled a mind-controlled exoskeleton suit piloted by Thibault, a young quadriplegic who was paralyzed from the shoulders down after falling 40 feet from a balcony, severing his spinal cord. Now, before you get too excited, the exoskeleton suit weighs a hefty 143 lbs. and Thibault does need to be attached to a ceiling-harness in order to minimize the risk of him falling over in the exoskeleton - it means the device is not yet ready to move outside the laboratory.
Researchers from the University of Grenoble in France, biomedical research center Clinatec and the CEA research center implanted recording devices on both sides of Thibault's head, between the brain and skin, to span the sensorimotor cortex -- the area of the brain that controls motor function and sensation. Electrode grids collected his brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm, which translated the signals into movements and commanded a robotic exoskeleton to complete them.
Over a period of two years, Thibault trained the algorithm to understand his thoughts by controlling an avatar -- a virtual character -- within a video game, making it walk and touch 2D and 3D objects. You can read more about this discovery HERE.
Local media also pounced on this story and San Francisco-based ABC 7 News was able to connect with Ligia Andrade, a quadriplegic from San Mateo for an on-air interview which you can view HERE.