Mind-Over-Matter Toys Become Reality
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: May 3rd, 2009
Competing mind-over-matter toys from Mattel and Uncle Milton Industries are coming this fall to a store near you. They are the first "brain-computer interfaces" to enter the consumer mainstream. NeuroSky is in the forefront of turning brain-computer interfaces into cheap, ubiquitous consumer items. It's selling brain-reading hardware and software headsets to all comers -- including Christmas competitors like Mattel's $80 Mindflex and Uncle Milton's $130 Force Trainer, both of which involve levitating a ping-pong-like ball. NeuroSky has its sights set on providing brain-wave sensors for the automotive, health-care and education industries. The prospect for mind controlling matter dates to 1875, when Richard Caton discovered that you could peer into the workings of the brain by detecting its electrical impulses. In 1929 came the first electroencephalograph -- the EEG machine. But hospital EEG machines are expensive, enormous and not good at fine control; plus you have to smear conductive goop on your head -- not a great selling point. Thus, NeuroSky's adaptation is no small thing. They get a single dry sensor to read your bare forehead, no goop, no holes drilled through the skull. They get the device to focus on the correct signals from that extremely noisy brain area, filtering out everything else -- that's their big trick. "It's like being at a crowded party, and picking out one quiet conversation," says Liu. Then they make it small, light and cheap, and deliver it to market.
Note: Don't miss the astonishing video demonstration on the Post website. And remember that the military is generally at least 10 years ahead of industry in any new technologies like this.