Commanding a brain-controlled wheelchair using steady-state somatosensory evoked potentials

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108 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we propose a novel brain-controlled wheelchair, one of the major applications of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), that allows an individual with mobility impairments to perform daily living activities independently. Specifically, we propose to use a steady-state somatosensory evoked potential (SSSEP) paradigm, which elicits brain responses to tactile stimulation of specific frequencies, for a user's intention to control a wheelchair. In our system, a user had three possible commands by concentrating on one of three vibration stimuli, which were attached to the left-hand, right-hand, and right-foot, to selectively control the wheelchair. The three stimuli were associated with three wheelchair commands: turn-left, turn-right, and move-forward. From a machine learning perspective, we also devise a novel feature representation by combining spatial and spectral characteristics of brain signals. In order to validate the effectiveness of the proposed SSSEP-based system, we considered two different tasks: 1) a simple obstacle-avoidance task within a limited time and; 2) a driving task along the predefined trajectory of about 40 m length, where there were a narrow pathway, a door, and obstacles. In both experiments, we recruited 12 subjects and compared the average time of motor imagery (MI) and SSSEP-based controls to complete the task. With the SSSEP-based control, all subjects successfully completed the task without making any collision while four subjects failed it with MI-based control. It is also noteworthy that in terms of the average time to complete the task, the SSSEP-based control outperformed the MI-based control. In the other more challenging task, all subjects successfully reached the target location.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-665
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received May 18, 2015; revised October 4, 2015, March 15, 2016, and May 26, 2016; accepted June 5, 2016. Date of publication August 3, 2016; date of current version March 6, 2018. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (NRF-2015R1A2A1A05001867) S.-W. Lee is the corresponding author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2001-2011 IEEE.


  • Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs)
  • brain-controlled wheelchair
  • electroencephalography (EEG)
  • motor imagery (MI)
  • steady-state somatosensory evoked potential (SSSEP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • General Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering


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