Light on! Real world evaluation of a P300-based brain-computer interface (BCI) for environment control in a smart home

Roberta Carabalona, Ferdinando Grossi, Adam Tessadri, Paolo Castiglioni, Antonio Caracciolo, Ilaria de Munari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain-computer interface (BCI) systems aim to enable interaction with other people and the environment without muscular activation by the exploitation of changes in brain signals due to the execution of cognitive tasks. In this context, the visual P300 potential appears suited to control smart homes through BCI spellers. The aim of this work is to evaluate whether the widely used character-speller is more sustainable than an icon-based one, designed to operate smart home environment or to communicate moods and needs. Nine subjects with neurodegenerative diseases and no BCI experience used both speller types in a real smart home environment. User experience during BCI tasks was evaluated recording concurrent physiological signals. Usability was assessed for each speller type immediately after use. Classification accuracy was lower for the icon-speller, which was also more attention demanding. However, in subjective evaluations, the effect of a real feedback partially counterbalanced the difficulty in BCI use.Practitioner Summary: Since inclusive BCIs require to consider interface sustainability, we evaluated different ergonomic aspects of the interaction of disabled users with a character-speller (goal: word spelling) and an icon-speller (goal: operating a real smart home). We found the first one as more sustainable in terms of accuracy and cognitive effort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-563
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • advanced human-machine interfaces
  • controls and input devices
  • mental fatigue
  • physiology
  • user needs analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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