This is your brain on computing

08 Jun 2008|Lee Shupp

Veeeery interesting article in the New York Times today entitled “Moving Mountains with the Brain, Not a Joystick.” We discussed brain/computer interface possibilities on the “Kill Your Mouse” panel at South by Southwest Interactive this spring, but I can’t say that I thought I’d see a commercial application of it this fast!

The article describes a new gaming interface from Emotiv Technologies, based here in San Francisco, that uses a headset to translate brain waves and facial muscles into computer commands. The wireless EPOC headset will cost $300 and is set for a holiday 2008 release date.

The headset uses electroencephalography, or EEG, to monitor electrical impulses in the scalp, and convert them to computer commands. Word is that it takes some practice to do this, and not everyone can do it well, but this could be a harbringer of very interesting things to come.

Imagine what can happen when this technology gets good. You can think something, and have your computing devices act on your thoughts! That is unbelievably cool. Imagine how you could apply this to your life. Imagine what happens when the next generation of kids comes along, who instead of having twitchy gaming thumbs, will be used to thinking to interface with computers, and won’t even think it’s that big a deal.

This may seem farfetched, but as Jim Dator has so famously observed, any good idea about the future should at first glance appear absurd. I’ve been reading lots about scientific experiments with humans where researchers are teaching people how to control their brainwaves to interface with hardware devices. Most Buddhist monks already know how to control their brainwaves adroitly.

I wonder what will happen when we start to understand how the brain reacts to design? To marketing? To advertising?

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