EEG headsets have burst onto the open market allowing buyers to ditch clumsier manual interfaces, like a joystick, mouse or keyboard, and interact with their computer using nothing but the power of thought.
Once the topic of science fiction, EEG headsets monitor electrical activity (thankfully non-invasively), as it radiates from a subject's cortex.
Impulses are measured and parsed through a number of sensors built into the headset for recognised patterns of activity, allowing compatible third party programs to respond in kind.
Resembling a fashionably bulky set of headphones, Aussie company Emotiv (who some consider the market leaders) have released a new headset; EPOC.
It doubles the capabilities, and fashion sense of other competitor EEG headsets, and out of the box can be configured to distinguish between many forms of conscious thought (i.e. move left, right, up down, rotate 90 deg etc.), affective / emotional states (i.e. excitement, boredom, frustration and meditation), as well as detect different facial expressions.
Presently Emotiv's primary market is computer gaming on the Windows platform.
One of the challenges faced by Emotiv, as outlined in their demonstration videos, was to be able to accurately determine where on the cerebral cortex electrical signals were being generated.
The cerebral cortex is the heavily folded outer layer of the brain and, like a fingerprint, is unique for every person.
By computationally modelling the cortex as a smoothed, flattened surface, Emotiv's tech team were able to accurately map electrical discharge over a subject's cortex.
Developer Kits are available, and Open Source alternatives already exist for download, opening up EEG technology to the wider software / hardware development community, encouraging new avenues of invention and commercialisation…..
Welcome to the future!
Ben Kitzelman has spent the last 4 years travelling between Australia and Zambia, serving for one as a missionary, and is now an IT professional in Melbourne.
Ben Kitzelman's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/ben-kitzelmen.html