The Unlock Project was a multi-university initiative (involving researchers from Boston University, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Kansas) whose purpose was to develop brain-machine interface (BMI) technology for individuals suffering from locked-in syndrome (LIS), characterized by complete or near-complete loss of voluntary motor function with intact sensation and cognition. LIS is typically the result of brain stem stroke or late stage amyotrophic lateral schlerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Being locked in has been compared to being buried alive; sufferers of LIS often feel completely isolated from friends and family due to their inability to communicate. The Unlock Project was undertaken from 2009 to 2016 under funding from the National Science Foundation.
In addition to generating a number of important BMI research contributions (see the Publications page), programmers with the Unlock Project developed a Python-based modular software framework for developing “apps” that can be controlled by a wide range of hardware input devices, including commercially available electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) systems. This software package is freely available through Github. Further information about the Unlock Project software framework is available in this document.