Tech in T.O. Next Generation: 17-year-old develops brain-controlled technology

Click to play video: 'Tech in T.O. Next Generation: 17-year-old develops brain controlled technology'
Tech in T.O. Next Generation: 17-year-old develops brain controlled technology
WATCH ABOVE: At 17 years old, Ananya Chadha has already developed technology that allows her to control a toy car with her mind and it’s just one of many inventions she is developing. Erica Vella has more – Oct 8, 2019

This is the fifth of a 10-part series on Toronto’s technology community

At 17 years old, Ananya Chadha is working as a machine learning developer with IBM and has already developed technology that allows her to control a toy car with her mind.

“It’s all within the field of brain computer interfaces, which is technology that lets you connect to your brain with computers and machines to let you do different things,” she said.

Chadha’s interest in technology started when she was young and she would attend summer camps at the Ontario Science Centre.

“I’m really grateful. My parents put me in a lot of science summer camps… and that changed my life so much because it made science so fun,” she said, recalling some of the projects she did as a child.

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READ MORE: Tech in T.O. Next Generation: Meet Microsoft’s youngest AR developer

“We would do so many fun experiments in the summer and that’s what I think got me into it.”

Since then, the teen has created brain-controlled technology that allows her to control a music player and a toy car.

“I thought it was super interesting … Using different electrodes, I was able to collect signals from my brain and then use a bunch of different software and different machine algorithms to extract insight and then based on those insights you can control different outputs like moving a car or moving X object,” she said.

“There’s a lot of potential to where this field can go. A lot of smart people are looking at creating neural interfaces to try and see if we can make humans smarter or to make humans communicate even faster than we’ve ever been able to.”

Click to play video: 'EXTENDED: Interview with Ananya Chadha'
EXTENDED: Interview with Ananya Chadha

Creating this technology is something that Chadha said she finds exciting and hopes it can make positive change in the future.

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“The reality is that a lot of the hardware making us able to do a lot of these crazy things will completely transform the way we live needs to still be developed,” Chadha said.

“I think in the next short amount of time we’re going to be developing a lot of the technology to understand our brain and understand how it works and then from that point we can try and see if we can reach a lot more of the more ambitious goals of increasing human intelligence.”

READ MORE: Tech in T.O.: Meet Raquel Urtasun, the driving force behind Uber’s self-driving cars

Chadha is a student at The Knowledge Society, an innovation program meant to prepare young people who have interests in the tech field.

“I was actually first exposed to the world of gene editing and I spend about two years working with a research lab in Toronto,” she said.

“I was really fascinated by how we use a lot of machine learning to be able to developed and look at what genes we need to fix.”

The 17-year-old said she is continuing to learn each day and is in the process of applying to university.

“I want to continue going down this path … I want to keep learning and growing,” she said.

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“It’s easy to be complacent … I want to make sure I don’t get too comfortable because that means I stop my own growing.”

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