The BCI 4 Kids Program

What is the BCI 4 Kids Program?

The BCI 4 Kids Program is a child- and family- centered clinical program to provide opportunities for children with severe physical disabilities to access cutting-edge brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. BCIs are emerging as a promising access technology for children with complex physical needs, as they analyze and interpret non-invasively recorded brain signals to control applications directly without needing any reliable or functional physical movements. Our program connects children with physical disabilities in the Calgary area with BCI technology, and our team works with them to achieve personalized goals using the technology. Through their experience, feedback, concerns and interests, the children and families participating in the program directly inform pediatric BCI research and help to drive pediatric BCI development. The BCI program developed as a result of our strong commitment to the belief that all children have the right to independence, interaction and play, and we are dedicated to developing and providing access to technology that directly addresses the needs of the children we work with.

A young boy participating in the BCI Program

Two of our stellar BCI4Kids Program participants, holding their BCI Program progress journals.

Another participant of the BCI program, holding his BCI journal

How it Works

Upon entering the program, the participating child and their parent(s)/guardian(s) will be invited to attend a set of introductory sessions at our facility at the Alberta Children's Hospital where they can try out some of our different BCI systems. Throughout these sessions, families will learn more about our different BCI systems, what they could be used for, and the technology underlying them. Since BCI is not a "one size fits all" solution, this will help us see what system(s) could work best for the child, and what kinds of activities or tasks they might be able to use BCI for. Then, with the help of our clinical team, families will set a goal with their child to work towards using one of our BCI systems. Our technical team will then step in to make sure we have adjusted, adapted or personalized the technology to ensure that the child has everything they need to reach their goal. 

The child will then work towards their goal, with the support of our entire team. Families will be given resources to help track their child's progress, there will be motivational incentives for the child as they work through different stages of the goal, and our team will be there to help guide and make adjustments to the goal as the child gains more experience with the BCI system. The technical team will also be on hand to make further adaptations or add additional features to the BCI system or applications as needed. 

While BCI technology is a very exciting and up-and-coming field, it is important to remember that at this time, BCI is not intended to replace existing access technologies. It is meant to augment or provide an additional option to existing access methods, especially for entertainment and environmental control. At this time, BCI is not considered a reliable method for accessing alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices, or for operating power wheelchairs. However, the more we work with our participants and families within our BCI program, the closer we get to BCI as a comprehensive access technology. Your participation in the BCI4Kids program will help stimulate research and technical development that will drive the entire field of BCI research forward. 

Please note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are running a modified version of the BCI program, operating mostly from home, to minimize non-essential trips to the hospital for both families and staff. 

Diagram describing the steps of the BCI program.

Some of Our BCI Activities

Screenshots of some BCI-accessible video games

Video Games

Many of the kids in our program use our BCI systems to play video games. We even have some video games that were designed specifically for use with BCI from our 2019 BCI Game Jam event, where game developers all over North America came together to design some of the world's first BCI-compatible video games!

A boy using a BCI and sphero robot toy to paint

Sphero Painting

Another one of our kids' favorite BCI activities is Sphero Painting! They use the BCI to control a toy robot called a Sphero, which they drive through paint drops on a canvas to create beautiful abstract designs. Several of our kids have even won awards within the CP community for the paintings they have created.

Two boys racing remote control cars with BCI

Remote Control Toys

Our BCI systems increase the number of ways our kids can interact with their environment, including playing with remote control toys. We are also working developing systems to access popular applications like Spotify, and Instagram and TikTok for some of our older users.

We'd love to hear your ideas!

Have a BCI Wish List? Thought of a great activity for BCI? Let us know what activities, games or applications you would like to be able to control with BCI! Include your email if you would like us to get in touch and talk more about your idea. 

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Painting made with a BCI

Contact Us

 

Reach out to us for more information on the BCI4Kids Program or our research: 

Email: kirtonlabcalgary@gmail.com

Twitter: @BCI4kids

Address: Alberta Children's Hospital

28 Oki Dr NW

Calgary AB, Canada

 

We are a part of the Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program:

CPSP Website