Technology progresses by leaps and bounds daily, and it seems like there is no limit to what people can achieve with computers. Now, there is research going on in a Massachusetts university, which may push your expectations farther than ever. This technology development is a headband that can read brain activity.With the ability to read brain activity, this wearable device can then send the information to a computer, which can determine whether the person wearing the devices is bored, tired, or alert and ready for work. This technology has many implications, which researchers are just beginning to determine, but surely, you can imagine a few on your own.
What Has it Done so Far?
The research began and has progressed in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Tufts University, located in Medford, Massachusetts. A computer scientist named Robert Jacob and a biomedical engineer named Sergio Fantini, are collaborating on this ground-breaking project. At the moment, the technology is in the beginning stages, and therefore the headband is a heavy prototype which connects to a desktop computer with large cables. Experiments have done to put the technology in several simulated situations, including air traffic control, movie recommendations based on mental response to films, and music lessons for pianists.
In air traffic simulations, the computer was able to use the information from the brain of the wearer to determine how many planes could be handled and controlled before the brain became overloaded or fatigued. If this technology becomes usable, the computer could also shift flight assignments around to other staff, according to the levels of mental activity in the room. With music, it was able to read brain signals to determine a wearers understanding of the melody being taught, and when those skills were mastered, the computer could alter the music to make it more challenging. More information about this headband project can be found here.
What It Could Become
The collaborators of this technological advancement would eventually like to see it combined with wearable computer technology, which people can then use on a daily basis. The example compatible computer tech given was Google Glass, which is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. This technology already responds to voice commands, and combining it with new developments such as this brain-wave reading headband would be a great next step. Eventually, this type of research could lead to a future where humans can communicate with computers entirely by thought, with no need for a physical input device like a mouse or keyboard. It may sound far-fetched material from a science fiction novel, but it is actually a distinct possibility now. This is part of similarly incredible technology being developed today that could allow information to be downloaded into the human brain, or allow human brains to be “backed-up” on a disc.
These advances in technology are amazing, and can open up a whole new world of possibilities for human-computer collaboration. There may come a day when a neurosurgeon will also need to be a computer repair technician, or knowledgeable with IT support in order to give proper medical attention to patients.