Bulletin of Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology
  kyurizukai interview  
Dr. Junichi Ushiba Wish to make BMI a useful tool for patients

Please tell me something about your projects in progress in terms of industry-academia collaboration.
      My goal in the foreseeable future is to develop the BMI into a tool actually available for patients. So I’m teaming up with interested businesses to create algorithms for biosignal analysis and develop machines. Depending on companies, there are differences in their attitudes toward joint projects. Some like to study our joint project slowly and steadily, regarding it as a field of future R&D, while others want to go straight to the market. Types of industries also vary widely, from entertainment to home electronics and automobiles.

We’ve heard that you are currently involved in a large research project.
      It’s the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences (SRPBS) initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In addition to Keio, participants include ATR (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International), University of Tokyo, University of Osaka and Shimadzu Corporation, among others. Its leader is Professor Liu of the Rehabilitation Department of Keio’s School of Medicine. Keio is addressing this project in collaboration between the School of Medicine and Faculty of Science and Technology.

photoIn what direction do you intend to develop your BMI research project? What are your short, medium and long-term objectives?
      For the short term, my objective is to present, in a few years, evidence of the BMI for rehabilitation I’m currently working on. Rehabilitation is a new concept of BMI application. I’d like to theorize the concept as a field of science and disseminate it from Keio to the world. In this field of science, there are two major research bases in the world. But we maintain high hopes to bloom by making BMI as our core field. We are confident because over the years we have pursued this field via close collaboration between the School of Medicine and the Faculty of Science and Technology. While I expect certain progress in academic verification to be made within a few years, I think it will take more time before it can be applied to actual medical care. If your objective were the same level as the development of an air-conditioner or TV switching device, it wouldn’t take long. But ours is to pave the way for the creation of a BMI unit for rehabilitation that can be made available to patients for a reasonable price. This is my other objective.
      For the medium term, I’d like to introduce brain science as the base of our project, while I also want our project to shoulder a part of endeavors to establish rehabilitation science. As you may know, current rehabilitation still depends much on experiential knowledge. However, this field is making progress toward becoming a systematized science, which I would like to be a part of and make a contribution.
      My eventual goal is to return the fruit of our research efforts to education. Because our field makes it necessary to learn multiple fields of study in well-balanced fusion and to associate with people from diverse fields, I’d like to nurture talents who can do such things on their own. I think I must study harder. At the same time I’d like to see my students not only grow as individuals with “interface abilities” but also become capable enough to extend these abilities to connect to those of their neighbors.
      I was raised in a family that I explained earlier where I could find objects to which I could devote myself as I learned various things at my elementary, junior high and senior high schools. As I was lucky enough to become a teacher, as my lifework, I would like to continually help younger students to find their own dreams, in addition to educating university students.

You must be very busy every day. What are your diversions?
      Well, there’s nothing special these days. No doubt, I’m busy with my work. Being a father of two small children and taking care of them also keeps me extremely busy as well. Playing “Masked Riders” and the like with my small ones is my only diversion you might say. (laughter) As for the band I began during my school days, I had continued it until several years ago by renting a nightclub. But we dissolved it. As my wife is a clinician, we talk about my research even at home. Having a study of my own has been my yearning since my childhood, and recently I had built it. Though I wanted to relax and enjoy reading there, I actually use it to prepare documents to apply for research funds.

Thank you very much for your time.
A student: Dr. Ushiba is sharp and has great foresight. He is very expressive which is a rare type in the scientific field. This sensei is also good at stirring up students, which makes our laboratory a pleasant place.
His secretary: Dr. Ushiba’s weak point is getting things around him in order. Is it because his brain is too nimble for reality to catch up with, I wonder? When it comes to tasks, he gives me instructions gently and attentively. This reminds me of his smile-provoking image as a good Papa at home.
Interviewer: As I observed him, Dr. Ushiba seems to be a type who can produce excellent results without getting tense. He reminds me of those days when he was a computer boy. But Dr. Ushiba, you have a long way to go. Please take care of yourself and do not accumulate your fatigue from overworking.

(Reporter & text writer : Etsuko Furukori)



Interest in computing and interest in the brain
Attraction of universities allured me to teach at my alma mater
Wish to make BMI a useful tool for patients
Profile Dr. Junichi Ushiba He has been engaged in research on the motor control mechanism concerning human autokinesia and reflex. For the past several years, he focused on the development of Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) applying scientific knowledge accumulated so far. In 2003, he became a visiting researcher at the Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction of Alborg University, Denmark. In 2004, he obtained a doctorate (engineering) and became a Research Associate at Keio University. From 2007 to date, he serves as an Assistant Professor at Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology.

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