Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mind Control for Videogames 

Today's Wall Street Journal has a story (subscription required; page B5 in the dead tree edition) about a demonstration by Emotiv Systems Inc. of its new technology for enabling gamers to control actions with their brain waves.

The article is accompanied by an illustration of a helmet that looks something like the webbing inside of a bicycle helmet without the shell. (A more detailed picture is available at Emotiv's website.) The helmet has electrodes that senses the gamer's EEG waves, which are then translated into actions on the computer screen by the company's software.

The technology apparently needs lots of development before being commercially viable. The article notes, "In some cases, there was a noticeable time lag before [the demonstrator's] mental commands produced an effect on the screen." But remember the Bomar Brain? It was a very early handheld calculator sold in the early 1970s for what seemed at the time to be an outrageous amount of money, and all it could do was add, subtract, multiply and divide. Now businesses give away calculators that do that as readily as business cards.

As much as this may be a "gee whiz" application for computer games, it would not be a great leap to have it controlling real-world machines in a similar way. Imagine if someone like Stephen Hawking could control his wheelchair in this manner, or even control the output of a voice synthesizer. What a boon! And then of course there are the defense applications, which would be right out of science fiction.

I can't wait to see where this development will lead in five or ten years.

You can access that Wall Street Journal article for free with a netpass from: http:news.congoo.com

This was on CNBC this am and thought it was a good tip.
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