Welcome to the age of thought-controlled computing, courtesy of a Toronto company called InteraXon. The company has created a headset that measures the electrical activity in your brain. These are so-called alpha and beta waves that your mind generates when you’re in a certain state of mind. By changing your thoughts, you can send signals to the measurement device, which translates them into digital signals. You can thus control something like the intensity of lights on big buildings just by changing your thoughts.
InteraXon’s demo, sponsored by the Ontario provincial government, will light up displays on Toronto’s CN Tower, Ottawa’s Parliament buildings, and Niagara Falls. Users will be able to experience the thought controls at InterAxon’s Bright Ideas installation at Ontario House during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
InteraXon’s CEO Ariel Garten says the controls will let you control something without touching a button and extend your influence beyond your physical self. If you relax, the brain will generate alpha waves. If you concentrate on something, then your brain will generate beta waves. InteraXon’s custom software marries the user’s thoughts to lighting controls on the various displays. The changes to the lighting in Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls will be projected onto a big screen at Ontario House for big crowds to see.
The three-person company, which was spawned by research at the University of Toronto, is one of a number of companies trying to bring thought-controlled computing out of the research labs into the mainstream. The technology has considerable implications for disabled people. Thought-controlled wheelchairs and prosthetics are already a reality. And Mattel launched a thought-controlled toy, Mindflex, last fall, using technology from NeuroSky.