Tools for Brain-Computer Interaction: a general concept for a hybrid BCI (hBCI)
The aim of this work is to present the development of a hybrid Brain-Computer Interface (hBCI) which combines existing input devices with a BCI. Thereby, the BCI should be available if the user wishes to extend the types of inputs available to an assistive technology system, but the user can also choose not to use the BCI at all; the BCI is active in the background. The hBCI might decide on the one hand which input channel(s) offer the most reliable signal(s) and switch between input channels to improve information transfer rate, usability, or other factors, or on the other hand fuse various input channels. One major goal therefore is to bring the BCI technology to a level where it can be used in a maximum number of scenarios in a simple way. To achieve this, it is of great importance that the hBCI is able to operate reliably for long periods, recognizing and adapting to changes as it does so. This goal is only possible if many different subsystems in the hBCI can work together. Since one research institute alone cannot provide such different functionality, collaboration between institutes is necessary. To allow for such a collaboration, a new concept and common software framework is introduced. It consists of four interfaces connecting the classical BCI modules: signal acquisition, preprocessing, feature extraction, classification, and the application. But it provides also the concept of fusion and shared control. In a proof of concept, the functionality of the proposed system was demonstrated.