Print 19 comment(s) - last by captchaos2.. on Nov 21 at 9:47 AM

Image courtesy Hitachi Japan
More research being done in brain-machine interface technology

Hitachi has reportedly created and successfully tested an interface that allows users to turn a power switch on and off by using their brain only (English). Optical topography, a neuroimaging technique which measures the changes in blood hemoglobin concentration in parts of the brain responsible for mental activity, is utilized with Hitachi's brain-controlled interface. Any significant changes monitored in the brain blood flow is then translated into voltage signals that are used for activating the model train's power switch.

Although the technology isn't all that revolutionary, the research is continuing to look promising. The Hitachi prototype currently only allows users to control the on/off switch, but researchers hope that they can use the signals for advanced functions. For example, researchers hope to one day be able to help disabled users become more independent by letting them use their mind to carry out basic actions.

Hitachi hopes to make its brain-interface technology available to consumers within five years.  As Hitachi's research continues, other companies are currently working on similar technology -- Berlin researchers are testing a "mental typewriter" that is able to identify and process commands from the brain.

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By AggressorPrime on 11/20/2006 8:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Lets jack in and play some video games. Isn't PS4 supposed to be the console that connects to our brain?

RE: Matrix?
By peternelson on 11/20/2006 8:55:12 PM , Rating: 3
"This may feel a little weird"

Welcome to the construct ;-)

Don't forget your residual-self-image.

RE: Matrix?
By keitaro on 11/20/2006 11:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Somehow I fear the "residual self-image" is something that'll scare everyone else away... some will probably pose as a zombie... another a vampire... and for some people, pornographic individuals with "features".

RE: Matrix?
By captchaos2 on 11/21/2006 9:47:55 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the picture looks like a still pic taken from "The City of Lost Children". I guess there really is a Dr. Krank stealing kids dreams!

RE: Matrix?
By captchaos2 on 11/21/2006 8:38:53 AM , Rating: 2
I just want to know when I can get com wires installed in the back of my neck like they had in Ghost in the shell. Mamoru Oshii was so right about the blending of man and machine!

RE: Matrix?
By peternelson on 11/21/2006 9:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
It was done about 30 years ago to implant electrodes into the optic nerves/optical cortex to let an external computer communicate to blind people by "flashing lights" seen by the brain. As a child I found that in an encyclopedia ;-)

The cabling was not out the back of the neck though, I think it came out the side of the head.

Tech has moved on now. Recent Anandtech story covered the retina chip which emulates an eye albeit lower resolution.

If you have the money, I imagine you can book an appointment for surgery to implant your "port".

However if the industry is anything like VGA/DVI/DualDVI/HDMI1.3 etc maybe wait a while rather than get installed with a port that becomes quickly outdated by next gen tech.

RE: Matrix?
By peternelson on 11/21/2006 9:39:25 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking how you could take the signals from a real eye, copy them and send the copy via a cable into a blind person's brain.

Maybe not do this with a sighted person (share your eyes like sharing the headphones on your ipod), but maybe your guide dog.

So surgery on your guiding dog intercepts the optic nerve signals, and brings them out on a cable.

The cable could run along the dog leash (or more likely be sent over wireless to a receiver the blind person carries which plugs into their head. Assuming their blindness is an eye defect rather than a defect in processing in their brain, the signals from the dogs eye should be readily useable.

That way although the blind person can't see with their own eyes they would at least get their "dog's eye view" of where the dog was leading them. With dog training, they might be able to read a book using the dog's eyes as it scans the page for them.

Whole new dimension to guiding dogs for the blind.

Maybe future universal soldier could be hooked up to insects eye signals - confusing but with different spectrum eg infrared or UV sensitive, or cat's eyes - see in near dark conditions.

HCI's last minutes
By MobileZone on 11/20/2006 8:05:56 PM , Rating: 2
After they get it done, HCI will be history. Right?

RE: HCI's last minutes
By KristopherKubicki on 11/20/2006 8:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
Hah! You will BE the HCI

interesting controller
By peternelson on 11/20/2006 8:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
If you thought the Wii's novel controller was cool,

just think of this tech made into a controller for some future game console like the Wii3, X720 or PS4. Drive the on-screen train by your mental powers alone. Make it accelerate the more excited you become.

Of course it will take some time to master your martial arts combat moves and special kick combinations.

And maybe the head scanning could be embedded into something like a VR style helmet so it's easy to put on and remove.

RE: interesting controller
By jconan on 11/21/2006 5:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
then you're talking about the matrix... that will probably take centuries or until the earth is wiped out by the machines and people become dependendent on electro interface with the virtual computer generated environment or maybe in a couple of generations

Iterations please
By Araemo on 11/20/2006 8:55:46 PM , Rating: 2
All of those electrodes for a binary switch? That isn't looking very useful to me.

And we've already had dual trinary(I think?) - brain 'readers' like this have been used to control a mouse pointer, that's two axes plus no signal, hence trinary? Or does that just count as dual binary? I'll wait until the technology advances to the point of a USEFUL interface before I get excited about another company doing this. ;)

RE: Iterations please
By OtakuMax on 11/20/2006 9:15:44 PM , Rating: 2
Go ahead and have your brain opened to have electrodes inserted... I am sticking with non-invasive interface :p

(Please, at least read the originally article...)

The person in the image
By Tamale on 11/20/2006 9:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
looks a little freaked out, wouldn't you agree?

RE: The person in the image
By Cullinaire on 11/21/2006 9:20:51 AM , Rating: 2
Naw she's just concentrating really hard.

Underage guinea pigs
By ElectricMayhem on 11/20/06, Rating: 0
RE: Underage guinea pigs
By Cullinaire on 11/21/2006 9:22:07 AM , Rating: 2
Taken objectively, you could say children are better candidates for this experiment because they have far less cluttering up their minds.

RE: Underage guinea pigs
By oTAL on 11/21/2006 9:45:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think it kinda spoils a joke to say your joking... but there are some exceptions, and if you were joking a smiley or some other clue would be helpful... otherwise people around here tend to take you seriously...

Nothing new
By Visual on 11/21/2006 4:46:27 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing new really. Like other people said, such an enormous strap-on for a simple binary switch is disappointing.
The only good bit of news in this article might be the time esitmate for availability, though it too doesn't sound too good - five years from now? And it isnt even certain, too.
Why is this going so slow? Braingate had a major success in clinical tests almost three years ago, and there has been nothing new heard from that project ever since.
Hopefully, as more and more companies enter the field, they'll get some results sooner due to the increased competition.

It appears to me that most people don't even realise the significance of this technology. They joke about it being used as a cool game controller, or hope that it will help disabled people... but the potential is so much more. It's not just a better way to interface with computers, it will give us a complete new way of communication between ourselves too. I think it will completely change society.

I just can't wait to see some real progress in this area.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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