For the last few years, Puzzlebox has been publishing open source software and hacking guides that walk makers through the modification of RC helicopters so that they can be flown and controlled using just the power of the mind. Full systems have also been custom built to introduce youngsters to brain-computer interfaces and neuroscience. The group is about to take the project to the next stage by making a Puzzlebox Orbit brain-controlled helicopter available to the public, while encouraging user experimentation by making all the code, schematics, 3D models, build guides and other documentation freely available under an open-source license.
Want to know what your brain is up to? Soon, it may be as simple as slipping on a wireless headband, then accessing an app. That’s the idea behind Muse, a wearable device developed by Toronto-based tech company InteraXon
. Essentially a lightweight portable EEG (electroencephalography) machine, it lets users monitor their neural activity in real time via their mobile device.
Once the preserve of science fiction, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have advanced to the point where they can even be found in novelty headwear
, which only makes an achievement of an international team of scientists more frightening. Using an off-the-shelf Emotiv BCI costing only a few hundred dollars, the team has shown that it's possible to "hack" a human brain and pull things like bank details straight out of your skull.
NeuroSky’s brain-computer interface (BCI) technology has found its way into a variety of devices over the last few years, from the MyndPlay
media player and MindSet
video game headset to the XWave
and XWave Sport
. The latest product sporting the company’s brainwave-reading technology features a slightly more fun form factor – fluffy, wearable cat ears.
Tech startup Neurovigil announced last April that Stephen Hawking was testing the potential of its iBrain device to allow the astrophysicist to communicate through brainwaves alone. Next week Professor Hawking and iBrain inventor, Dr Philip Low from Stanford University, present their findings at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference in Cambridge, England. In anticipation, Gizmag spoke to Dr Low about the potential applications of the iBrain.
California-based company PLX Devices first came to our attention in 2010 with its XWave
brainwave interface accessory for iDevices that read a wearer’s brainwave information. It appears the call center headset-like form factor may not have appealed to many as the device no longer appears on the company’s website, but it has been replaced with a similar device in a design that should make the wearer much less self-conscious – a brain computer interface headband.
Last April, for the first time since she became paralyzed 15 years ago, a 58 year-old woman was able to get herself a drink of coffee – she did so via a robotic arm, which was controlled by her thoughts. Although that rather astounding feat took place over a year ago, it was just made public today, in a report published in the journal Nature
. The woman was a volunteer test subject, in a clinical trial of the experimental BrainGate
neural interface system. Although still very much in development, the system could someday restore mobility to people who have suffered paralysis or limb loss.
As machines get more and more sophisticated, the mental capacity of their human overlords stays at a static (albeit seemingly impressive) level, and therefore slowly starts to pale in comparison. The bandwidth of the human brain is not limitless, and if an overloaded brain happens to be overseeing machines carrying out potentially dangerous tasks, you can expect trouble. But why had we built the machines in the first place, if not to save us from trouble? Brainput, a brain-computer interface built by researchers from MIT and Tufts University, is going to let your computer know if you’re mentally fit for the job at hand. If it decides your brain is overloaded with tasks, it will help you out by handling some of them for you.
Chaotic Moon Labs drew a lot of attention last month at CES 2012
with its motion controlled "Board of Awesomeness,"
a longboard that a rider controls by gesturing at a Kinect
sensor on the front. Apparently though, that was just the beginning. So, how could the studio possibly improve on a skateboard that starts and stops just by having a person move their hands? By not having the rider move at all. The latest creation, the aptly named "Board of Imagination," moves forward just by having a user think about it while wearing an Emotiv EPOC headset
Neuroscience has ramifications for future warfare, and the scientific community must be more aware. So says a new report published by the Royal Society titled Neuroscience, conflict and security
, which cites interest in neuroscience from the military community, and identifies particular technologies that may arise. Among them is the potential for "neural interface systems" (NIS) to bring about weapons controllable by the human mind, though the reports also discusses more benign military applications of neuroscience, such as fostering a revolution in prosthetic limbs.