Two weeks ago, we (frogshark team) visited Thought-Wired, an Auckland based company, that is doing R&D on thought control interfaces and neurotech. Dmitri Selitskiy showed us where things currently at in that tech space, and it was interesting to see how they’re trying to build a platform for developers like us, to be able to interface with all these different propitiatory BCI hardware.
I got to try the Emotiv BCI. It’s really quite impressive, to get to experience the early tech in this area. It’s not as plug-and-play as one would expect from a consumer product. You have to lubricate the electrodes, you have to spend hours ‘training’ the system to adjust to your specific brainwave activity. It’s a really steep ramp to get it to “just work”.
I think it’s still in very early stages, it will probably be a couple of years before we see some real home consumer applications, but the potential is already here for therapy and medical research. This kind of technology is a blessing for people with disabilities.
The gaming applications for BCI’s however are incredible, and I’m not just talking about playing star wars, or letting disabled people play traditional games, but also the new opportunities of gameplay.
What if I’m using the controller to perform standard mechanical actions that I don’t have to “think” about and just perform from kinesthetic memory, and how does that coexist with brainwave control schemes?
Is there going to be some kind of hyper-threading where the BCI doesn’t just pick up on particular thoughts, but on particular “ways of thinking”?
All these would certainly raise some eyebrows among privacy advocates, however, ethics aside, the future for this technology is very bright.