Brain-computer interface users speak Up: The virtual users' forum at the 2013 international brain-computer interface meeting

Betts Peters, Gregory Bieker, Susan M. Heckman, Jane E. Huggins, Catherine Wolf, Debra Zeitlin, Melanie Fried-Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


More than 300 researchers gathered at the 2013 International Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Meeting to discuss current practice and future goals for BCI research and development. The authors organized the Virtual Users' Forum at the meeting to provide the BCI community with feedback from users. We report on the Virtual Users' Forum, including initial results from ongoing research being conducted by 2 BCI groups. Online surveys and in-person interviews were used to solicit feedback from people with disabilities who are expert and novice BCI users. For the Virtual Users' Forum, their responses were organized into 4 major themes: current (non-BCI) communication methods, experiences with BCI research, challenges of current BCIs, and future BCI developments. Two authors with severe disabilities gave presentations during the Virtual Users' Forum, and their comments are integrated with the other results. While participants' hopes for BCIs of the future remain high, their comments about available systems mirror those made by consumers about conventional assistive technology. They reflect concerns about reliability (eg, typing accuracy/speed), utility (eg, applications and the desire for real-time interactions), ease of use (eg, portability and system setup), and support (eg, technical support and caregiver training). People with disabilities, as target users of BCI systems, can provide valuable feedback and input on the development of BCI as an assistive technology. To this end, participatory action research should be considered as a valuable methodology for future BCI research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S33-S37
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Brain-computer interfaces
  • Communication aids for disabled
  • Outcome assessment (health care)
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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