The force is strong in this one. Tan Le, an Australian entrepreneur has developed a headset that can read your mind and that lets you move objects around just by thinking about it. What's more it can tell if you're having a good time. Science fiction come to life? You bet.
Tan Le's company, emotiv was the result of a late night dinner conversation with some neuroscientists that she couldn't get out of her head. Ever had one of those? Drawing on experts in various fields such as neural mapping, MRI scanning and molecular biology the headset opens up a new frontier in human/computer interaction.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in development was the fact that although emotion and motor skill centres in the brain are in the same place for most people on earth, they can only be measured by direct brain implant stimulation. By the time the tiny electrical signals created by neural impulses reach the skull they're totally random (somehow this seems comforting). A lot of time, some tricky maths and a sophisticated algorithm and they were up and running.
Le has been demonstrating live the amazing, almost magical, features of the EPOC headset recently. This involves sitting quietly for about 30 seconds while the software 'learns' about you. Then you have to assign or 'train' a specific task such as rotating an onscreen image of a cube. You can make it disappear too. Whenever this is done live you can clearly hear audience gasps and astounded laughter and to be fair it is pretty amazing.
The nature of information is changing, not just the quantity and we're definitely going to need new ways of organising and ranking it. The idea of being able to do this without direct input or command is overwhelming. Obviously consumer gaming would be a natural fit but think also about online banking or saving and filing documents. How about emailing or photo retouching? What implications could a cheap headset that can read your mind have for relationships or flirting? I can certainly see an epoc friendly hairstyle being on offer at a salon near you soon...
Tan Le will be at TEDx Brussels on December 6 John Fass