You may remember the 60 minutes episode from a few years back where scientists at Carnegie Mellon University were using fMRI machines to identify the brain activity patterns for each particular thought. When the subject thought about a screwdriver, the machines mapped out what parts of the brain were involved. When the person thought of a screwdriver again, the computer could say or spell out the word screwdriver. Same thing is happening with words: electrodes are attached to a person’s head and they are asked to read a list of words. The computer attached to the electrodes is able to map the brain signals involved in each word so the next time the person only needs to think of the word and the computer will pick up the person’s brainwaves, displaying the word on the computer.
There is so much research and technology involved in this field it is staggering. The common belief these days is that in the very near future we will be using machines every day that can read our thoughts. It will be common for everyone to have one of these devices. Well that day is closer and closer; actually it is here. You can buy a machine that will read your mind. It is called the Emotiv EPOC.
“Based on the latest developments in neuro-technology, Emotiv has developed a revolutionary new personal interface for human computer interaction. The Emotiv EPOC is a high resolution, neuro-signal acquisition and processing wireless neuroheadset. It uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expressions and connects wirelessly to most PCs.” The price for the EPOC is $299.00. On the website, there is an example of a person playing Angry Birds with his mind, using the EPOC headset.
If you would like to watch the video from Tan Le, the inventor of this device, got to TED.com and search for Tan Le. The video shows a great demonstration of how the device works.
Did you know that there are a couple of games by Mattel called Mind Flex and Mind Flex Duel that you can buy for less than $100? Mind Flex first came out in 2009 and using only the power of your mind you try to lift a ball up and down, through some hoops, and around an obstacle course. Here is a picture of Katalina giving it a try:
You wear a headset that is calibrated to the game and then concentrate on lifting the ball. This game is meant for one person, but there are some games built in where you can challenge another person – up to 4 people – to race the ball around the machine and see who can do it faster. If you really want to duel it out brain to brain with another person, then maybe the Mind Flex Duel is the game for you. Click on the links above to find out more information about each game.
So now we know that Mind Reading Machines are here. I am excited…are you?
Here are some links to more great information on brain computer interface and neuroscience: