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December 8, 2003

Unfortunately, many of you won't Thanks to a sponsor, you can read this article in The Economist, a pay-subscription site, which is too cool to ignore. Basically, it talks about some breakthrough brainwave work being done in Berlin. Try this experiment (taken from the article), "LIFT your left hand. Did you know that your brain was preparing for that movement a full half-second before it actually took place? Even more spookily, your mind knew which hand it was going to lift before you made the conscious decision to lift it...Volunteers at FIRST are already playing Pac-Man, racing games and [playing] video tennis without touching a keyboard or joystick. Instead, they are fitted with an electroencephalograph (EEG) and, simply by thinking about it, they are able to move objects around a computer screen." Trippy, huh? It's also cool that this research is being done at the Fraunhofer institute, with which my company has a relationship with. These brainwaves can be read with just surface electrodes, but some current problems are that you also need some gel for proper wave detection, and the whole setup takes about 45 minutes. If they could cut that down with some powerful and sensitive signal amplifiers, they could eventually throw the whole thing in a baseball cap. You could type your report just by thinking about it -- something great for the disabled. Or, something they mention in the paper, you could have cars understand the waves and brake before your foot even moves, saving valuable time and lives. Maybe this is how Neo can act so fast in The Matrix. It makes for some interesting thought.

Posted by charr at 12:17 PM
Reader Comments

First thing that comes to mind is what this could do for people confined to wheelchairs. I think it's Cerebral Palsy that robs people of motor skills along with Multiple Sclerosis. Think of what this could potentially mean to those people. Good post Cameron.

Posted by jason at December 8, 2003 1:56 PM

I met a girl in London in April that has something called "Locked-In Syndrome", where she can't animate anything in her body at all. She's literally an active mind trapped in a dead body. It's the scariest thing. The only thing he has any control over at all is she can slightly vibrate her hand, through which she can communicate through her mother. Somehow they developed some sort of code, so through the vibrations her Mother can figure out what she's trying to say. I talked to her for a while and it's just the saddest thing, and yet she has accomplished so much. This would be a life-saver for her. With everything she has already done, I can't imagine what all she could accomplish with this.
But there again, I don't think I could use it, my mind wanders too much while I'm writing, communicating, or doing any one thing. Everything would come out all jumbled. :)

Posted by Heather at December 9, 2003 12:04 AM

Wow. I had no idea that there was research in this subject. It's awesome that you're somewhat connected to it, too.I'm thinking that this could be great for amputees. The greatest problem for amputees (with most of the limb removed) is that mobility is confined (imagine how you would walk if you couldn't bend your knee). With a mechanical knee hooked up so it would bend with a thought... wow. There are many applications for medicine. There's a lot of military uses that come to mind, too.

Posted by Jan at December 9, 2003 6:07 AM

my neighbors are reading my mind constantly. and they like to have sex while they do it. they comment on every little thought or imagination in my brain. odd but true.

Posted by jeremy at February 5, 2005 5:27 PM

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