General Information

Mail: University of Houston
Cullen College of Engineering
E421 Engineering Bldg 2, 4722 Calhoun Rd, Houston, TX 77204-4007
Map & Driving Directions (includes parking information)
Email: info [at] egr [dot] uh [dot] edu

CULLEN COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

News

ECE Professor Demonstrates Brain-Controlled Robotic Legs to U.S. Rep. John Culberson

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

By: 

Audrey Grayson
Prof. Contreras-Vidal explains to Rep. Culberson (right) how the brain-machine interface to the Rehab Rex exoskeleton works.
Prof. Contreras-Vidal explains to Rep. Culberson (right) how the brain-machine interface to the Rehab Rex exoskeleton works.

Professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, demonstrated to U.S. Representative John Culberson how his brain-controlled exoskeleton helps parapalegic patients regain their mobility and independence simply through the power of their thoughts. 

On August 22, Contreras-Vidal was invited to an event at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute to demonstrate his world-famous Rehab Rex exoskeleton to Rep. Culberson in action. Dr. Gene Alford, a paraplegic patient, used his brain waves to control the movement of the exoskeleton. Contreras-Vidal stood by Alford's side and explained how the technology worked as the once-wheelchair-bound doctor glided across the floor on his state-of-the-art robotic legs.

For years, said Contreras-Vidal, most researchers believed decoding movement intentions in the brain would require invasive technologies, such as electrodes implanted in the skull, “but we have been going against dogma for a long time.” Contreras-Vidal’s earlier research demonstrated that movement intentions related to the legs (such as walk, turn, and sit down) can be decoded with high accuracy through the scalp electroencephalogram (or EEG), which records the brain’s electrical activity through a skullcap fitted with electrodes that simply contact the scalp. Amazingly, what allows Dr. Alford to walk effortlessly across the floor is little more than what looks like a swimcap fitted to his head, spotted with colorful dots (the EEGs).

The event took place on August 22nd at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, Texas Medical Center in Houston. The NeuroRex project is a joint collaboration with Dr. Robert Grossman.

Faculty: 

Department: 

Tag: 

Related News Stories

Scholarship Recipients Thank Donor Who Changed Their Lives at Brookshire Luncheon

Last year the lives of 85 UH Engineering undergraduate students changed drastically when they received scholarships donated by the incredibly generous alumnus Dr. William A. Brookshire. On Feb. 9, these students had the opportunity to meet and thank the man who made such a lasting impact in their lives at the Brookshire Scholarship Luncheon held at the UH Hilton.

Becker’s Robots and Students Visit Charter School

Oliver, a fourth grader at UH Charter School, is keen on learning about robots

When Aaron Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Cullen College, took seven engineering students to the UH Charter elementary school to play with robots, he wasn’t just opening young minds – he was upholding the charter school’s vision to help students fulfill their potential through wonder and discovery.

Spring Engineering Career Fair a Success

Making connections at Engineering Career Fair

Aside from attaining knowledge itself, most students attend college to find a path forward in their lives, searching for a career that suits them. At the Engineering Career Fair, that job is made easier as company representatives from the Houston area drop in to offer opportunities, mentor students and share stories of how they went from being a college student to a company employee.