We pointed and we clicked. Afterward we exploited and we swiped. Siri was spoken to by a few of us, some waved our hands at the Kinect.
Yet the search to control our technology with nominal exertion continued. And however, in 2015, we haven’t quite come up with a system that literally reads our thoughts, we are becoming nearer to one that reacts to our brain waves.
It is a notion that is been on the minds of many for some time now. This past summer, my Yahoo Tech co-worker Dan Tynan endured the present market of products that point to a future in which we can “control things — your telephone, computer, car stereo, game console, lights within your home, and more — using just your ideas.”
Now, the practical applications of the technology stay a tantalizing thought. But brainwave-reading has made the most headway in what’s possibly a field that was astonishing: the artwork.
That may seem such as the exact reverse of “practical,” but even the most out there arty experiments with brainwave technology have a reward beyond creative expression. In a nutshell, they are helping us understand what a “mind-reading” computer interface can actually be — both in its possibility and its own limits.
THE WAY THAT IT OPERATES
First, a note of circumstance: What are we really talking about when we talk about brainwave interfaces? It is not quite sci fi as it seems. The brain’s regular procedures — ions and neurons going about their company — result in electric action that medical scientists and others have really been able to quantify and track for decades. The practice of recording this action has the remarkable name electroencephalography (more commonly shortened to EEG). Seen pictures of a man’s head strapped up with an outbreak of wired detectors? That is an EEG set up.
Streamline that mess of wires into a more practical thing, and you’ve something like the “neuroheadsets” made by companies like Emotiv and NeuroSky, among others leading the charge of brainwave control into the consumer marketplace. And once you’ve got a device that could record brain action in the type of information, you’ve got an input signal which can be translated to some kind of output signal.
We are a ways from a scenario in which the captured input signal is as special as “I need to see Broad City,” or “Follow Yahoo Tech on Twitter.” However, as a number of technologists and artists are presenting, it is already possible to do some creative things just using off the shelf brainwave technologies — if, obviously, you set your head to it.