A brain-computer interface (BCI) gives those suffering from neuromuscular impairments a means to interact and communicate with their surrounding environment. A BCI translates physiological signals, typically electrical, detected from the brain to control an output device. A significant problem with current BCIs is the lengthy training periods involved for proficient usage, which can often lead to frustration and anxiety on the part of the user. Ultimately this can lead to abandonment of the device. The primary reason for this is that relatively indirect measures of cognitive function, as can be gleaned from the electroencephalogram (EEG), are harnessed. A more suitable and usable interface would need to measure cognitive function more directly. In order to do this, new measurement modalities, signal acquisition and processing, and translation algorithms need to be addressed. In this paper, we propose a novel approach, using non-invasive near-infrared imaging technology to develop a user-friendly optical BCI. As an alternative to the traditional EEG-based devices, we have used practical non-invasive optical techniques to detect characteristic haemodynamic responses due to motor imagery and consequently created an accessible BCI that is simple to attach and requires little user training.