Monday, June 25, 2007

Harnessing the Power of Thought

From the Discovery Channel this past week -- Forget the 'clicker' the old-fashioned TV remote, where you have to manually change the station -- Hitachi's scientists are in the process of developing a brain TV remote controller which would allow users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking:

"The new technology in Japan could let you control electronic devices without lifting a finger simply by reading brain activity.

The "brain-machine interface" developed by Hitachi Inc. analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals.

A cap connects by optical fibers to a mapping device, which links, in turn, to a toy train set via a control computer and motor during one recent demonstration at Hitachi's Advanced Research Laboratory in Hatoyama, just outside Tokyo...

Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography, which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow."

Although this brain-machine interface technology has traditionally focused on medical applications (such as helping individuals with disabilities to operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs), manufacturers such as Hitachi and Honda have been seeking commercial applications; Honda is looking to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles.

While this technology actually has been around for several years, one major advantage to Hitachi's technology is that the technology is non-invasive; previous technologies have required implantation of a chip under the skull.

To read more, click here.

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