UFABC 1st BCI Symposium

by Rita Rodrigues
Sales Assistant (Brain Products)

The Universidade Federal do ABC, Brain Products and our Brazilian distributor, Brain Support Brasil, worked hand-in-hand to promote UFABC’s first BCI symposium, which took place on September 22 in the city of São Paulo. The event featured a panel of renowned speakers in the field of BCI, namely Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer (University of Tuebingen), Dr. Thorsten Zander (TU Berlin), Prof. Jorge Moll (President D’Or Institute), and Yann Renard (chief technology officer at Mensia Technologies).

BCI UFABC: Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer, Dr. Thorsten Zander & Prof. Jorge Moll

Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer (left), Dr. Thorsten Zander (middle) & Prof. Jorge Moll (right) during their presentations at UFABC’s 1st BCI Symposium

Over 150 attendees gathered in the Auditorium of the Universidade Federal do ABC in order to listen to a selected group of prominent names in the field of BCI research. Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer talked about “Applied Assistive Technology controlled by Brain Waves: Scientific approaches, current and future benefits”, followed by Dr. Thorsten Zander, who illustrated “The use of passive Brain-Computer-Interfaces for adaptive and implicit interaction”.

Yann Renard show-cased the “OpenViBE solution for BCI” and Prof. Jorge Moll focused his talk on “Decoding and Modulation of Emotional States”. After the symposium, Brain Products and Mensia Technologies hosted a hands-on workshop on BCI, promoting “actiCAP Xpress” as our dedicated solution for BCI research.

BCI UFABC: Prof. João Sato, responsible for UFABC 1st BCI SymposiumProf. João Sato, professor at UFABC and coordinator of a research project in the field of neuroimaging, was in charge of the event. Following the meeting, he sat down together with Brain Products to share with us his thoughts on the symposium.

Here is a brief recap of the interview:

Prof. João Sato, what is the status of BCI in Brazil?
Although there are some research groups in BCI, I believe this is an emerging field with increasing interest not only by scientists but also by the general public. In 2014, we could see many articles about BCI published in local magazines and newspapers. There were also news on TV as well as in social networks and blogs. The number of research groups working in this field will most likely increase in the course of the next years.

Can you tell us more about the role of UFABC in the BCI field in Brazil?
When one thinks about the Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC), the keyword is interdisciplinary teamwork. We believe that BCI is an interdisciplinary field per se, motivating teamwork in research, teaching and community activities. Thus, I believe the role of UFABC is to aggregate scientists from many areas of science and expertise, with the main concern in knowledge diffusion and discovery at a high level of quality. Since BCI involves the collaboration between engineers, computer scientists, physicians and psychologists, among others, UFABC can play a role in facilitating the interface and communication between these people, from undergrad to post-doc stages.

What motivated you to organize the UFABC 1st BCI Symposium?
UFABC is a very young university in Brazil, which started its activities in 2006. Thus, the staff is young and very motivated and open to innovative ideas and projects. I believed that organizing a symposium would be the best way to identify people who are interested in BCI and put them in contact. We are very grateful to Brain Products for believing in us and for sponsoring this event. In addition, this was also an opportunity to put Brazilian researchers in contact with world-class researchers such as the invited speakers. As previously described, BCI is being discussed in many forums. A scientific symposium is also the best way to obtain accurate and exciting information on the state-of-the art of this field.

Were your expectations fulfilled?
Honestly, the impact was far beyond my expectations. Since this is a very specific topic, I was expecting 50 to 80 participants. However, in one month after the registration was open, we had more than 200 applications. Interestingly, we had participants from all places of Brazil, which is a huge country. I believe one of the main reasons for this interest was the top-level of the speakers. Moreover, after the symposium, I had the feedback of many participants highlighting the extraordinary quality of the talks.

Again, we’d like to thank all the invited speakers, Prof. Sato and his team as well as Jackson and Ivania Cionek from Brain Support Brasil for helping to make UFABC’s 1st BCI Symposium a very successful event. We are already looking forward to similar ones in the future!

©Brain Products GmbH 2014