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12 April 2011 | PR 11/41

Brainwaves move a crane in record-breaking challenge

Dr Darren Southee and Dr Guy Bingham

Dr Darren Southee and Dr Guy Bingham from the Loughborough Design School at Loughborough University

Experts at Loughborough University played a vital role in an extraordinary experiment to lift a car by crane using brainwaves.

Dr Darren Southee and Dr Guy Bingham, both academics at Loughborough Design School, were invited to take part in the project by Channel 5’s The Gadget Show.

They worked alongside brainwave technology experts NeuroSky, on the TV challenge which aired at 8pm on Monday (April 11th).

The stunt, which gained the team a place in the Guinness World Records, illustrated the potential of new brainwave technology.

Gadget Show presenters wore MindWave EEG headsets, which record electrical activity within the brain.

The Loughborough University team designed and built a mechatronic system enabling the brainwaves to manipulate a wireless crane controller and a wireless magnet controller.

During the experiment, four presenters - Jason, Jon, Ortis and Polyanna - used the system to manoeuvre a giant magnet attached to a 60-ton crane, directed by fifth presenter, Suzi.

Using the crane at AG Cranes Ltd of Studley, Warwickshire, they picked up a car and moved it to a designated spot, earning the team the World record for the heaviest machine moved using a brain control interface.

MindWave EEG headsets respond to levels of concentration.

When each presenter’s concentration levels reached a certain intensity, their brainwaves triggered a pre-set instruction within the electrical system, enabling the crane to be moved.

Both Dr Southee and Dr Bingham are members of Loughborough University’s Design Practice Research Group, which contributes to knowledge of the act of designing, leading to better design practice and the development of new products via innovative techniques.

Loughborough University’s Dr Darren Southee, whose expertise includes embedded electronic systems design, said: “This project was quite a challenge, given the short time scales involved - but a very interesting project to be involved in.

“The moment when the elements of the system were connected together for the first time, at the dress rehearsal, and it worked, was an emotional one.’’

Design engineer Dr Guy Bingham said they used the very latest Computer Aided Design software and Additive Manufacturing techniques being pioneered at Loughborough University.

“It was interesting to see the presenters tackle the concentration challenge. There is a certain level of concentration required to enable the system to work. If they didn’t concentrate correctly, the crane wouldn’t move,’’ he added.

Gadget Show producer Tom Norton said: “It worked at the first time of asking - this is a Gadget Show first. The contribution from Loughborough Design School has exceeded our wildest expectations.’’

The World Record attempt was broadcast on The Gadget Show, Channel 5 at 8pm, on Monday, April 11.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Sarah Hall
Marketing and Communications Officer
Enterprise Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228684
E: S.Hall@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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