Recently I had the interesting experience of checking out some new technology that has hit the market. I’m talking about a device that allows you to perform action simply by concentrating. Now, the actions were simple, but you have to start somewhere.
The technology is developed by a company called NeuroSky who got their start in scientific research. Originally the technology that was designed after the likes of bio feedback clinics that measured and captured raw brainwaves from patients with developmental disorders like ADD or ADHD. Patients would wear a headphone like instrument with receivers over the ears and one on the forehead. Their brainwaves are then transmitted to a computer where raw brain wave patterns are examined. This practice was designed to help the patient understand what it felt like to concentrate and focus with results that doctors needed appearing on a screen.
From a medical standpoint, the cost of the device and software, $200 per unit, was much less than having a standard device, which costs around $30,000, that could essentially do the same things that the other was meant to do. However Tansy, the Communications Manager on hand, stressed that it did not replace the full medical suite found in bio feedback labs but helped to train the patient’s mind, much like exercise. This lead to allowing patient’s to decrease or remove medication all together.
As the medical position stabilized and the technology began to grow so did the uses of the software. NeuroSky understood trying to develop both the software for specific companies and the hardware was too much for them to handle seeing as it would demand a lot of specialists. So they decided to just develop the hardware in-house and hand the purchasing company a free developers kit for the software. This allowed for maximum efficiency and also opened up many new areas of the market for them. Currently NeuroSky has contracts with companies such as Square Enix and Mattel so expect to see a few products hit the market in the next year or so.
Back to the actual headset and applications. As I said above the user wears a headphone like device with a type of “arm” that touches the forehead. It’s pretty comfortable and doesn’t feel unusual in any way. In one application they had running, they measured the High Alpha, Beta, Gama, and Theta waves of my brain, as well as the low frequencies. When told to focus I witnessed the curved and oscillating circle move towards one of the aforementioned levels. The same happened when I was told to relax and meditate. While it was tricky to figure out how to get results once you understood it the process was much easier.
The second portion of the application they had me test was a 3d game. Here I controlled the actions of my preprogrammed character to either pull a box by concentrating, lift it by relaxing or lighting it on fire through concentration. Again it was tricky to figure things out at first but it became easier over time.
After the visual test I partook in a type of physical test. This involved controlling the intensity of a blower on a machine while levitating a foam ball through various obstacles. This seemed a bit more responsive than the first but it was a much simpler task, in a sense. The last demonstration NeuroSky had on display was a race between two carts, each holding one person, to see who could reach the end of the track before the other. You were tasked with concentrating on something, anything that worked for you, to move the winch on the other end of the track. At first I had trouble but when one of the techs began to speak I focused on what he was saying and I began to move.
While the technology may not be so developed that we may see it in video games any time soon, we will certainly begin to see more brain powered toys and gadgets within the next 2-5 years, economy allowing. There is a genuine hope for mind controlled applications in the future and with the way technology evolves we will be seeing it within our lifetimes. Be sure to heck out the video as well.