Posted by: fastforward on Aug 23, 2011
Imagine that you could control your technology just by thinking about it. Imagine that you could telepathically ‘tell’ your cell phone to switch to silent in a meeting, or inform your laptop from across the room that it should close Gtalk while you’re working. Ok, these feats may not be possible yet, but there are already very interesting prototypes around which make use of human brainwaves to control technology.
If the Apple-obsessed society we live in hasn’t convinced you that you need an iPhone, then maybe this will: there is an iPhone app that you can control with your brainwaves. Ok, so there’s also one which is available for Android (sorry, BlackBerry users).
The XWave iPhone app requires that users strap on a headband that monitors their brainwaves – this reflects as a visualisation on the phone screen. When you’re calm and relaxed, the app’s visualisation moves closer and closer to a shade of blue. You can also use the app to move a ball on the screen up and down, depending on what you’re thinking at the time.
The Android app is slightly different, as it is specifically built to measure brainwaves rather than receive them in order to interpret them into some action on screen. Japanese company (KDDI Research and Development Laboratories) has successfully developed an application that allows neurological information to be easily interpreted on a cell phone.
During a short test game, the app measures your concentration and relaxation levels, displaying the results after 30 seconds. You can also concentrate on something emotional for the same length of time, if you’d like to see a graph of your brain activity. Some authors believe this technology could be the next generation of portable lie detectors, or be beneficial for marketing research purposes, as companies could measure the level of interest in their advertisement.
Although both of these applications require a not-so-stylish brainwave-reading headband to work, there is another option for those looking for similar tech without wearing a strange contraption on their head. Another company has worked with Toyota to construct the Prius X Parlee concept bike. They have built this mind-reading technology into a helmet, which is used in conjunction with the bicycle, and allows you to change the gears using your mind. You simply need to train the receiver to be accustomed to your commands by using an iPhone app – once it understands what your unique mental signature looks like, you can ride off into the sunset.
While these devices (especially the bike and Android-based app) are still in the prototype stage, they are glimpses of what is possible in the future.