THINK and its Done

 

There are many fantasy movies that I remember from my childhood that still fantasy me. One of them is “Matilda” from late 90s. The best part in the movie was when Matilda learns to use her telekinetic powers to move things around her. 

Today,in 2014, we have already entered the era of smart technology, where turning on a washing machine from work using the app on your smart phone is a reality. The technology is getting better day by day. If the technology continues to develop at the current rate it wont be long before our world will resemble Matilda’s fantasy world.

 

Is this possible in near future? The answer is Yes and No.

 

YES

I say yes because with the help of research in neuroscience and computer science, scientists have been able to communicate with computers using thoughts alone. By thoughts alone I mean no sensory inputs, no uttering words, no movement, not even looking.

This communication of brain to computer directly is a type of a Brain Computer Interface (BCI). A brain-computer interface is defined as a direct connection between a human brain with a computer. The BCI research began in 1970s, and has continue to thrive.

Google says this about interface :

interface noun  COMPUTING

a device or program enabling a user to communicate with a computer.”a graphical user interface”

 

When a brain is active, it sends chemical and electrical signals via neurones throughout the brain network. Some of these signals can be measured using electrodes placed over the scalp. This recording of brains electrical activity is called Electroencephalography (EEG). These electrical signals are then amplified and converted to signals that the computer can understand.

 

See a man move a rat’s tail by transmitting thought signals :

 

Amazing right ? Wait. It gets better.

Scientists have recently achieved  a brain-to-brain interface (BBI). A man in India was able to communicate with another man in France, using thoughts alone. Though the signal travelled through different mediums including the internet, the communication was brain-to-brain, with no interpreter in between. The signals were transmitted by moving a hand for 1 and a leg for 0. The receiving body on the other side used peripheral vision(phosphenes) to decode the signal. They were only able to communicate HELLO.

(Grau, C., et al. PLOS ONE 2014)
(Grau, C., et al. PLOS ONE 2014)

Does this mean that we just need to come to the Science Communication Seminars, wearing an electrode helmet, and Done. Jenny has already transmitted all the thoughts to your brain directly without having to utter a single word! To make it even better, you don’t have to come to campus, you can communicate off-campus anywhere in the world through internet by brain-to-brain communication.

 

The answer is NO.

 

NO

First of all, the whole thoughts transmission system is extremely slow only 2 bits per minute. This means waiting for 400 years just for downloading a movie! 

Additionally, the bodies used for the experiment went through a training to use the system. They were trained how to actually transmit the thought. Even the software needed to be trained.

Telling Siri instructions on iPhone can be annoying at times. You need some training to give the right voice commands for Siri to get it right. Imagine getting trained to transmit the thought the right way?

…even Matilda took some time before she could use her telekinetic powers the right way.

Also the devices used are not very attractive to use.

Not so amazing? The whole setup might be unattractive but it shows the ABILITY what we can achieve.

Just imagine what this technology means for the disabled people. They can be trained to communicate and control their environment using thoughts. It will allow the ability for the paralysed to move, the mute to speak and the blind to see.

Cyberkineticsinc and BrainGate are two of those companies that provide opportunities for severely-disabled people to communicate once again with thoughts.

The BCI and BBI might be far behind to change our ordinary lives into technical fantasy lives but these technologies are far advanced in changing not-so-ordinary lives of some very special people.

 

See for yourself!

I will end with a video of a paralyzed woman moving robotic arm using thought alone first time in 15 years.

 

 

 


5 Responses to “THINK and its Done”

  1. Olivia Campbell says:

    This technology is amazing! particularly for helping people with disabilities! It definitely has a long way to go though. I think its a shame that it has to be sold to us as a gimmick rather then as a huge opportunity such as for that lady using the robotic arm.

  2. haamer says:

    yes @gmgo and @mlakidang. The technology is amazes you!…and it keeps getting better.

    @griffith. Thanks for liking it.

  3. mlakidang says:

    This is interesting. The technology will help people with special need such as disability or paralyze person. I might be worried about sabotage or kinda misuse the technology. But it’s great to have this.

  4. griffith says:

    This was a great post – the combining of other forms of media really engaged myself as the reader. The videos not only highlighted your point in a fun and interesting way but additionally provided a whole lot of extra information through the recommended videos at the end. Your post was very to the point, clear and exciting to read!

  5. gmgo says:

    This reminds me of technology released 2 months ago that allowed a quadriplegic man to move his fingers and hand with his thoughts thanks to a brain implant.