Thursday, July 5, 2012

So now Mind Reading is Possible

Welcome the singularity. It's 2012 and already we're developing commercial applications that involve mind reading. If we can "read minds" we can record thoughts and memories. The penseive of Harry Potter fame may be here before we know it.
Through the use of an algorithm formulated by Low, the iBrain reads brainwave activity and transmits it wirelessly back to a computer. As Dr. Low points out, the iBrain can collect data regardless of where a person is or what they are doing. For this reason it is a welcome alternative to the masses of electrodes and wires that hospitals and sleep labs generally use when assessing a patients brain activity.

[Stephen] Hawking was fitted with the head-band device and asked to “imagine that he was scrunching his right hand into a ball.” While he can’t actually move his hand, the motor cortex in his brain can still issue the command and generate electrical waves in his brain. The algorithm then translates these thoughts into signals, which show up on the monitor as spikes on a grid.

“We were looking for a change in the signal,” says Dr Low. “In January this year, we found it.”

The Francis Crick Memorial Conference, which takes place on July 7, discusses the topic of "Consciousness in humans and non-human animals" and will be the first time Hawking and Low deliver their findings to the public.

While many are hoping to see the famed astrophysicist speaking to us “through his brain” for the first time, it is unlikely that the technology has been refined to the point where this can be easily demonstrated. Instead, much of the research will be presented through video documentation.

While much of the publicity that Neurovigil has gained has been due to its close work with Stephen Hawking, Dr Low is quick to point out that the technology has been developed for everybody. That’s because the concept of “mind-mapping” with the iBrain is not limited to its use as an augmented communication device. In fact, the applications are so varied that it led to Dr Low refusing initial funding from venture capitalists.

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