Human-to-Human Noninvasive Brain Interface DevelopedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 27, 2013 02:27PM
While science fiction exposes us to fantastical worlds and ideas, actual scientists work to make those fantasies, reality. One classic idea in science fiction is interfaces that connect to the brain, to allow a human to control something with only their thoughts. Researchers at the University of Washington have recently achieved this but that 'thing' being controlled was not your normal piece of technology; it was another researcher.
Any willful action you make or think about making is accompanied by signals in your brain. These signals can be detected with noninvasive devices, such as EEGs, which can transmit that information to a computer. In this case that information concerned the first researcher's thoughts about playing a video game; specifically pressing a button to trigger a cannon to fire. However, he did not actually move his hand. Instead the brain-wave information was processed by a computer, sent via the Internet across campus, and fed into a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device. This devices uses magnetic fields to trigger signals within a subjects brain, and in this case the signals triggered the researcher's right hand to move, pressing the space bar. He later said the motion felt like an involuntary nervous tic.
While this definitely seems like the kind of technology a science fiction storyteller could use for a plot mechanic, they would have to embellish a great deal. The technology is very limited in what it can send, so thoughts are still safe, and there is no way to force someone to do something with it. The researchers are currently just looking at for its potential as a means of communication.
Source: University of Washington