The Future of User Experience – Mind Control

Posted By on October 14, 2015

In ‘The Future of User Experience – Mind Control’ we look at how brain controlled interfaces are becoming more prevalent in today’s society. This has huge implications for those that are physically disabled and the world will be more of an accessible place.

Here we highlight some of the most recent experiments in the use of mind control over objects and even live insects.

Team links two human brains for question-and-answer experiment

Imagine a question-and-answer game that is played by two people who are not in the same location and do not have verbal communication with each other. Round after round, one player asks a series of questions and accurately guesses the object the other is thinking about.

Researchers at theUniversity of Washington recently used a direct brain-to-brain connection to enable pairs of participants to play a question-and-answer game by transmitting signals from one brain to the other over the Internet. The experiment, explained in more detail at PLOS ONE, is thought to be the first to show that two people can be linked, via brain interfaces, to allow one person to guess what’s on another person’s mind.

This is the most complex brain-to-brain experiment, I think, that’s been done to date in humans. It uses conscious experiences through signals that are experienced visually, and it requires two people to collaborate.

Andrea Stocco, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

BrainGate Controlling Cursors

A collaborative group of neuroscientists, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians, have published a study in Nature Medicine that shows BrainGate, where two subjects who control a cursor with their thoughts with more accuracy and reactivity than ever before. Earlier versions of the system allowed subjects to perform such tasks as drinking from a coffee thermos using a robotic arm, or playing simple games.

The latest version brings finer control and ease of use. One participant was even able to type at a rate of six words a minute, using software originally developed to help people type type with eye movement.

Paralyzed Man Walks Using Brain Waves & Technology

One of the biggest predictions I have been making is around how wheelchairs will disappear with the advent of lower cost and durable exoskeletons and with EEG-based neural control systems.

A 26-year-old man, Adam Fritz, who was paralyzed in both legs has regained the ability to walk using a system controlled by his brain waves, a new study says.

In order to walk, the patient wore a cap with electrodes that detected his brain signals. These electrical signals — the same as those a doctor looks at when running an EEG (electroencephalogram) test — were sent to a computer, which “decoded” the brain waves. It then used them to send instructions to another device that stimulated the nerves in the man’s legs, causing the muscles to move.

Fritz, who had been paralyzed for five years after a spinal cord injury, used a walker and wore a harness to provide some body-weight support walked 12 feet .

China Has Developed Brain-Controlled Robots

China has been training students at a military academy to use headsets that detect and interpret the brain activity of the wearer, allowing them to control robots. At the People’s Liberation Army Information Engineering University in Zhengzhou, students used the device to send robots moving around the room. The participants were also able to turn the robot’s heads and get them to pick up objects.

Cyborg Cockroach Remotely Controlled by Human Brain

Also in China, an EMOTIV EEG headset was worn by a researcher to control a live cockroach to walk along test tracks. The headset decodes the directional intention of the wearer from eye movements and sends this to the electronic ‘backpack’ receiver on the back of the roach, so that it can be steered in the right direction. The Cyborg Cockroach’s movements are initiated because they are wired directly into the insect’s cerci – sensory organs cockroaches usually use to feel if their abdomens are brushing against something.

The system has numerous parts so that the wearer’s brainwaves are sent to a central computer which then decodes them and sends them to the cockroach’s backpack in order to control its actions.


You can see the demonstration in the following video.

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Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.

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