Control computers with your brain? Yup. A consumer version of those electrode headsets that doctors use to measure brain waves in patients, the Epoc from Emotiv can read your mind. And then help you lift things up and down in computer games
The technology seems to be at quite an elementary level, with the signal detected serving only to let you do quite simple tasks like move objects on screens, sort through pictures or rotate a cube.
But Emotiv are predicting some great uses for the technology when it becomes more advanced. Their CEO Tan Le gave a speech at the TED conference – worth checking out if you’re interested.
With the help of software developers, they hope to make a range of apps for the headset which will let you do a lot more with it. For example, if it were linked to a mobile phone you could call someone by thinking about calling them instead of picking up your handset and pressing buttons. These are the uses they’ve flagged up:
Artistic and creative expression – Use your thoughts, feeling, and emotion to dynamically create color, music, and art.
Life changing applications for disabled patients, such as controlling an electric wheelchair, mind-keyboard, or playing a hands-free game.
Games & Virtual Worlds – Experience the fantasy of controlling and influencing the virtual environment with your mind. Play games developed specifically for the EPOC, or use the EmoKey to connect to current PC games and experience them in a completely new way.
Market Research & Advertising – get true insight about how people respond and feel about material presented to them. Get real-time feedback on user enjoyment and engagement.
However, it’s all rather fledging so far. Problems seem to include having hair – it gets in the way of the electrodes which are supposed to make direct contact with your skin, and the fact that it is hard to train the device to respond to your particular thoughts.
See a forum where those issues are raised here.
It packs with a device called EmoKey – this links your thoughts or emotions to strokes on the keyboard. For example, if you smile during an instant chat conversation, then smile recognition software will insert a smiley :) into the text you are typing.
Geek and sci-fi writer Greg Dawe got all excited about the possibilities for this, something we covered in a blog post here.
I mean we’re pretty excited too, we’re just not going to spend $299 on it yet…