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At LAST: The BRAIN-CONTROLLED helicopter

Sadly not in form of propellor hat with really strong chinstrap

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Brain-controlled helicopters could be ready for Santa's elves to drop down US chimneys in time for Christmas this year.

San Francisco firm Puzzlebox has raised the cash it needs to put together its flying toys, equipped with an electroencephalography (EEG) headset, twice over on Kickstarter.

The headset "reads" brain waves and interprets them as commands for the helicopter's flight. But the toy will be pretty limited for now.

"When using the current Brain-Computer Interface, it will not be possible to steer the Puzzlebox Orbit in more than one direction at a time," the firm said on the crowdsourcing site.

"With practice a user should be able to improve their ability to concentrate (or alternatively, relax). This effects the duration they can maintain flight as well as response time at take-off. But the science simply does not support being able to distinguish between multiple 'intentions' with this quantity or placement of electrodes."

But the toy isn't just a crazy spherical brainwave-reader that folks will spend all of Christmas day trying to get working. Puzzlebox says it's selling the helicopter as a way to open-source brain-computer interface technology and educate people about it.

The company promised that after the project, it would publish all the software, protocols and available hardware schematics under open source and creative commons licences.

"We are willing to risk sharing our intellectual property in this way because we believe it is the best way to grow our community and to increase knowledge in the field," Puzzlebox said.

"Finally, if fully funded, we will produce videos and illustrated documentation explaining how the various neuroscience principles and technologies involved actually operate (including EEG and infrared transmitters). Because as cool as it might be to fly a helicopter with your brain, it's cooler understanding how it all works." ®

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