While people still have to gesture wildly in front of a giant computer display when they go with a human-machine interface á la Minority Report (see previous article), futurist Ray Kurzweil’s dream has been rather to jack directly into the brain (in order to upload it to the net to live forever, but that’s another story, called Singularity and all).
The Scientific American recently ran an article about the current research in neuro-technology regarding brain-machine interfaces. The first page is a little dragging, mentioning all the crazy ideas of science-fiction authors of the past 30 years, but the rest of the article is about current research programs like using the brain as an interface for prosthetics, steering through virtual worlds by mere thought or improving our memories with an artificial hippocampus. If you don’t have time skip to page 4 of the article. Full article on Scientific American: Jacking into the Brain – Is the Brain the Ultimate Computer Interface?
Although we appearently still don’t know jack about jacking into the brain and doing something really useful with it, there is the next best thing that you can order now (will be shipped to US addresses only by the end of the year for 299 US$): The EmotivEpoc headset taps your neurons from the outside and translates your intentions, facial expressions and emotions into commands for 3D games and virtual worlds. Their technology also lets you control a wheelchair just using mind control (video). Spooky, huh? And damn useful if it works. Here’s a video showing how it works with games.
Mac support is planned but scheduled for later – „the market conditions dictate that Windows comes first“ is what Jonathan Geracifrom the Emotiv team told me in July. But they offer an open API set for developers so the range of supported games and virtual 3D platforms should be impressive.
Read more about the sensor-laden headset or order it now if you are living in Obama land at the Emotiv Website. (No chance for the rest of the world without US address yet)