Following on from my previous post on Hitachi Labs mind-reading efforts using IR scans, a startup that’s a little closer to home has had some recent interest from the tech press on a similar topic. Emotiv’s Project Epoc is chasing the holy grail of human computer interface research: mind-controlled interaction with a computer, or, as they put it, “evolving the interaction between human beings and electronic devices beyond the limits of conscious interface”.
Emotiv has some fairly illustrious board members, including tech entrepreneur Tan Le (Young Australian of the Year in 1998) and Professor Allan Snyder, a founder and director of the Centre for the Mind in Sydney. The company recently relocated its head office from Australia to San Francisco, presumably to be closer to the action in and around Silicon Valley, the heartland of technology innovation in the USA, while research continues in its Sydney-based lab.
Project Epoc is a wireless headset that can “detect player thoughts, feelings and expression”, give a user some degree of control over a suitable application such as a game interface. The video demo is pretty impressive, showing a researcher doing some basic graphic adjustments to a scene with (presumably) only his mind. I “think” I’ll stop now. (Image sourced from here)
UPDATE: 15/01/08 – A vaguely related input device, the Neural Impulse Actuator “employs several sensors embedded in a headband to read certain electrical impulses from the wearer, theoretically acting as a PC input device.” It was developed by OCZ Technologies, makers of high-end gaming periherals and should be in commercial release soon.
After reading a general description of the device, it seems to me that most of the input consists of subtle muscle movements such as eye-squinting, frowning etc, rather than differentiated brain waves as read by an EEG device, for example. It probably requires some further invesigation, though. See an article on the NIA device here.