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THE brain is known to be the most complex organ in the body, and it can do wonders!


Keeping apace with the latest technology, two organisations held the first brain-computer interface (BCI) competition among university students.


Eighty-four teams from 16 universities in the Peninsular Malaysia took part in the highly-skilled contest, organised by Braintech and TusStar.


The contest was organised in three regions – northern, central and southern.


Braintech assistant director Dr Wendy Bong said the participants were required to use two types of human signals – the electroencephalogram (EEG) or the electrooculography (EOG) – to write a program to remotely operate a drone.


“The BCI is a rising technology that uses brain waves as a medium to remotely control computers or other smart devices through programmes.


“We provide a chip that can capture brain waves and some other materials for each team to assemble. The teams must build a drone using their knowledge, incorporate programmes via EEG or EOG and finally operate the drone using BCI technology.


“Our goal is to nurture more talents in BCI technology and to encourage more inter-disciplinary collaborations among university students,” she said when met at the northern region semi-final BCI contest in Universiti Sains Malaysia recently.


Dr Bong said most teams comprised of participants skilled in neuroscience, engineering, computer science, and Artificial Intelligence.


Three students from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) were extremely excited to take part in the contest.


“We have flown a drone using a remote control before. However, this is much better to be able to assemble a drone and finally fly a drone using our mind,” Puteri Ainan Sofia Nor Rahim, 21, said.


She said one of the most challenging parts of the entire contest was to solder the electrical components to assemble the drone.


“The components are rather small, so it is quite a challenge to solder them,” she said.


With her were her team mates, Sabrina Muhammad Razak, 21, and Syukrina Muhammad Razak, 22.


Pulau Tikus assemblyman Chris Lee said the competition had provided a platform for young innovators to exhibit their creativity.


“The contest helps participants to deepen their knowledge on BCI. We have to keep apace with the rapid advancement of technology,” he said.



Story by Christopher Tan

Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi