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In 5 Years, Mind-Controlled Gadgets May be Possible, says IBM

by Adriana Lee | December 24, 2011December 24, 2011 10:35 am PST

Can you imagine navigating your smartphone, tablet, computer or game console just by thinking about them? Or calling friends, launching apps, and changing device volume using the power of your brain? I know this is a huge wish list item for some of our readers out in Buffalo-land, based on comments we’ve seen on the site. (Yes, we do read them. Sometimes we laugh along, or cry and bemoan some of the same things.)

Well, if you ever hoped to see a thought-operated protocol for your advanced tech, then IBM’s latest musings will probably thrill you. The company has a stunner of a 5in5 prediction: Users may not only be able to engage their devices cerebrally, but it will happen in 5 years.

Though it’s labeled “mind reading,” it really is more like mind control — somewhat along the line of iOS 5‘s Siri or Kinect‘s motion-sensing technology, except instead of speaking commands aloud or moving in front of a camera, all you’d have to do is think about a command, and your devices will act. The uses of this would go far beyond consumer mobiles. Feasibly, you’d be able to turn on the lights in your house, warm up your car from the bedroom, and more, just by turning your thoughts to them.

The idea hinges on a piece of tech worn on the head, such as Emotiv’s EPOC neuroheadset. This thing’s got sensors built-in, and can read electrical brain signals, interpret and transmit them. Of course, the rig is ugly and kind of creepy.

Today’s $300 version is kind of big and definitely attention-getting. But give this technology a few years, says IBM, and advancements will allow for smaller sensors that can be embedded in a more streamlined form factor. That would be crucial for its adoption. (I mean, who’d want to run around with a massive helmet on all the time?)

But perfecting the hardware of the headgear is really only half the battle. Although the concept is exciting, it’s hard to believe that the software needed to make this work can really happen in such a short span of time. Not even voice control works seamlessly yet, and as for mind control, well that’s even hinkier. When DVICE took Mattel’s Mindflex Duel out for a spin, it was a confusing and strange experience.

Of course, I’m still hoping for it to happen. Technological telekinesis is just too crazy cool not to root for, no?

(If you geek out about this stuff, be sure to hit up IBM Research’s rather in-depth article in the source link.)

[via ASmarterPlanet.com, source IBM Research]

 


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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