Using a relatively new brain sensing tool called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), along with a more established brain sensing tool called electroencephalography (EEG), we can detect signals within the brain that indicate various cognitive states. These devices provide data on brain activity while remaining portable and non-invasive. The cognitive state information can be used as input to provide the user with a richer and more supportive environment, particularly in challenging or high workload situations such as management of unmanned aerial vehicles, driving, air traffic control, video games, health care, training, and anything involving information overload, interruptions or multitasking. It may also improve operation at the other end of the spectrum in highly automated systems that require little effort from the human, but that can result in boredom and low performance. In addition, while most of my research has focused on the broader population of healthy users, many of the results would benefit disabled users as well, by providing additional channels of communication in a lightweight manner.
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