Sunday, March 09, 2008

This machine does read your mind...so you can play games!

I feel it's my job to keep this blog from getting too narrowly focused on politics and especially the Presidential election, thus I'm returning to one of my favorite themes: wild and cutting-edge technology.

Apropos of my recent post about a mind-reading machine, this is a mind-reading headset for computer games!

Imagine controlling a video game by thought alone. Two weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Emotiv Systems showcased a new device, the Epoc, designed to help you do just that.

While Emotiv's futuristic, dueling-octopus looking headset will initially be developed for video games, it could eventually be used in medicine, virtual reality, robotics, education and many other areas.

The technology is based on electroencephalography, more commonly known as EEG. EEG has been around for over 100 years and is currently used to study sleep patterns and epilepsy by analyzing electrical activity in the brain. Until recently, though, EEG readings were regarded as too broad for most applications.

The breakthrough, notes Emotiv Systems' President Tan Le, is in the software algorithm that decodes a person's thoughts by analyzing the electrical impulses in the brain.


This is still very crude, and is not so much mind-reading as turning the non-random signals of the brain into some kind of signal in a computer, thereby manipulating a program. It's a totally different thing from the machine that recognizes what picture you're seeing, as one "understands" the information coming from your brain and the other doesn't. But it's amazing nonetheless. You can see immediate applications of this; for example using it to control wheelchairs and robots (which could be used by disabled people to do their work for them), vehicles, etc. It would open up worlds of mobility for the disabled. Of course being able to manipulate regular pc programs by thought alone is also just too cool. You'd need the other kind of mind-reader to manipulate words any more quickly than machines can do now, but at least with this you could do away with a mouse for the most part. Think of how fast you could respond in first-person shooters!

Anyway, that's your crazy technology for the day. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

But what happens to the argument that video games teach hand-eye coordination even as they rot your brain?