With cycling seeing a surge in popularity in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, say the researchers, the risks of accidents has increased. In response, and to help mitigate these risks, the researchers developed an electroencephalogram (EEG)-supported eBike prototype - called Ena - that monitors electrical activity on the brain corresponding to changes in a rider's field of view.
Changes to the field of view in peripheral awareness, say the researchers, is often linked with a decrease in the quality of human performance. A study with 20 participants that was conducted as part of this research revealed "various themes and design tactics" suggesting that peripheral awareness as a neurological state is viable to align human-machine integration - such as Ena - with internal bodily processes.
In the case of cyclists, potential scenarios such as a car cutting them off or an obstruction to a bike path are very likely circumstances. The Ena system reads the rider’s field of view via their brain activity. When the rider’s field of view is determined to be broad, meaning the rider is aware of their surroundings, the system offers engine support to go faster. However, if the rider's field of view narrows as a response to a threat - such as a car veering - the system immediately stops engine support, allowing the rider to go slower while they decide how to respond to the situation.
"The new research shows promising results on how humans can work together with intelligent systems in everyday life to extend their abilities," says IBM Researcher Josh Andres, who is also a member of the Exertion Games Lab at Monash University and a research fellow at the Wellthlab. "There are several scenarios where technology like this could be beneficial, from increasing safety and response time for emergency personnel to potentially monitoring a patient's peripheral vision to learn about a condition, right through to being used in sports to help soccer