I had an interesting thought the other day which consisted of the following: “Wouldn’t it be great if I could lazily stare at my computer screen and play SimCity without my fucking wrist falling asleep?” It never fails; even with the mouse pad having an extra gelicious cushion on it, the sensation of thousands of ants with tiny needles for legs crawling the length of my metacarpals inevitably returns after just a few short, zoned-out hours of play. Yeah, my God-damned computer mouse is causing me yet another minor inconvenience.
As if we First-Worlders didn’t do enough bitching already. (From chzbgr.com)
Most rational people would conclude I need to get off the damn computer, go outside and get some human interaction. Maybe they’re right, but though I believe in empiricism and the scientific method as a pathway to truth, I don’t claim to be a rational actor myself (Which explains that $650 prepaid gym membership which I promptly forgot about after three weeks.) And besides, Diablo III players the world over would, I’m sure, laud the arrival of a better way to click rapidly and ceaselessly for hours on end.
And what an advancement to society to have this guy no longer have to wear a wrist strap?! (Took I did from watchuseek.com; obviously originally from South Park)
Well not only will the laziest of lazy gamers appreciate the following, but people with legitimate physical handicaps as well as anyone excited about the limits technology will push. And I for one welcome our new robot overlords. So with that, I give you the Emotiv EEG helmet – the headgear that reads your fucking brain waves and turns them into computer commands! That’s right, this helmet can READ your GOD-DAMNED THOUGHTS and translate them into mouse movements and other commands! This is truly sci-fi shit brought into reality!
First, some technical background. An EEG, or electroencephalogram, is an unnecessarily complicated Greek-based word meaning a recording of electrical activity on the scalp caused by brain activity. Whenever you laugh at that awful but funny racist joke, catch a whiff of someone’s terrible Spirit of Number Two or engage in any thought process at all, your brain generates small voltage fluctuations that can be measured through the scalp (and as to why racist jokes or farts would be the paragon of your conscious endeavor, I do not know.)
EEG technology is actually fairly old (by the standards of today where even a three-year-old cell phone is treated as a relic,) having been developed in the early 20th century. EEGs have mainly been used for diagnostic purposes, particularly for diagnosing epilepsy in patients. But the recent twist has been to apply it to actively manipulating a computer, bringing us just one more step closer to the Matrix!
Doc Brown should’ve just traveled to 2015 and picked up an Emotiv along with the hoverboard. (emerged from the ether of Blogspot.com)
You may have heard about advancements in human-to-computer interfaces for paraplegics and people with near-total paralysis in the last few years, and these advances are nothing short of revolutionary in helping people otherwise physically isolated rebuild a severed link with the world. But amazing though they are, those applications were limited to these medical research cases and costs were prohibitively high. But the Emotiv helmet represents a new twist in this emerging field of technology, namely commercialization of the concept and making it available to most anyone – the device itself mit software costs only a couple hundred bucks (more for the more powerful versions) and the interface is not the most complicated to use, meaning that brain-scanning hardware is no longer limited to the realm of cutting-edge research but is available to the hardware hobbyist, casual gamer, creative tinkerers and to the paralysis patient alike without needing to shell out significant stacks of cash. Surely the democratization of such technology will only lead to more widespread use and additional discovery of its potential!
Here’s a YouTube video of the thing in action! Dude who vaguely resembles an exuberantly chipper Zack Braff is using the Emotiv EEG helmet to cast spells in a video game. Not one of the most world-changing applications, but an easy demonstration of what this hardware can do.
And here is a longer YouTube video going more in-depth with the hardware, setup and use of the Emotiv helmet, including showing the software interface. (The part where mister Mac Nerd calibrates the software by mentally moving a cube was particularly fascinating to me.)
This helmet is just one example of many to come down the pike. It may not be long before we’re all wearing neural interfaces like this to link up our smartphones/watches/glasses, and we’ll have made one more leap to becoming full-on fucking Borg. And while the legitimate concerns of the Luddites should force us to temper any naive optimism, I can’t help but being fascinated by this kind of technology reaching the masses. Fuckin’ eh, who the hell knows where this could lead?!?
On a final note, there are rumors of an alleged attempt at gangsta rap by me hosted on this very site. I assure those rumors are entirely unfounded, as I have never engaged in any more than a blatant cribbing of already existing content, much like these Fuck Yeah Science posts! So rather than look at a drunken karaoke video, check out Andy and Mike’s Banned from iTunes Podcasts!