August 31, 2008 Seth Perkins

Emotiv – Brain / Computer Interface

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The other day, I was researching something, probably VLC, and ended up on a tangent leading to a company called Emotiv

Essentially, Emotiv is building a headset targeted initially at the videogame industry.  The headset allows the mind to more-or-less directly interface with the game by reading the brainwaves of the player.  There are a few other possible competitors out there.  If you dig around on YouTube, can you see their demos as well as demos of Emotiv’s system.  

I’ve talked with several friends about this idea in other contexts including “what if the human brain could be a node / terminal on the Internet just like your PC is now?”  If you’re open to Sci-Fi, there’s an animated version of a manga called Ghost in the Shell which covers just this topic including overtones of the difference between man and machine as well as the ramifications of technology on our contemporary definitions of “mind”, “soul” and “humanity”.  

Personally, I feel the progression towards this end, the merger of mind and machine, is an eventuality.  I think if we look at the evolution of technology and media, we are constantly striving to bring content closer and closer to our person on a continuous basis.  For example, live orchestras became recorded on wax and vinyl for playback at the home and then ported to tape and cd for transportation with the person and then miniaturized and mobilized by mp3 and other file-based mechanisms.  Now we have mp3 players as fashion acessories keeping us in constant contact with content.  This line also merges with the evolution of communication from spoken word, to written language, to portable paper to wire communications: telegraph, telephone and now mobile technologies which place a full-blown Internet terminal in your pocket, terminating with a wireless headset on your ear.  Why shouldn’t we expect to eliminate the physical limitation all-together and simply connect digital media with the brain?

Of course, in Emotiv’s case, we’re only talking video games, right?  A player can use his or her thoughts to create bridges, put out fires, etc, but, as recent hardware evolution shows: videogames drive hardware development and that development shortly makes its way out into other realms of technology.  

I do feel it will be within my lifetime when the long term memory will be complemented by integration with massive databases of information (ie Wikipedia).  Really bad at Trivial Pursuit?  No problem, “What is the soapbox derby capital of the U.S.?” will be only be a thought away, even if you’ve never heard of Akron, Ohio before.

 

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