Hack Your Brain With A Machine That Reads Minds

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With Software Eating Hardware, Silicon Valley Enters “Hard” Times

Star Wars first planted the idea over 35 years ago that we could move objects with our minds. That idea is now a reality that has come a long way in the last few years. Emotiv is on the cutting edge of that technology with headgear that allows you to do things, such as make a toy car whiz by or help a quadriplegic mix music like a DJ using just their brain power.

It works by scanning your brain for signals using the Emotiv EEG device on your head. That device then relays your signals through a brain-computer interface to detect emotions, interest and a slew of other things. It takes some work but, as the video above shows, it also helps you use your Jedi training skills to move objects with just the power of thought.

There are numerous applications for this tech. Those with disabilities could become the best DJ you’ve ever heard or play video games or command robotic arms using just their minds. It could help those with epilepsy, ADHD, sleep disorders or the occasional panic attack to quiet the mind and focus. A project commissioned by the Royal Automotive Club of Australia is even using Emotiv to ensure safer driving. During the research phase, a signal sent from the brain of a distracted driver caused their car to slow down or stop on the road.

But it also steps into the world of market research. Emotiv can tell whether you really like something or not just by detecting the reaction of your brain signals to a certain product you see in a store. This would allow researchers to know whether something will be popular without even having to ask you questions. They’ll just see it on your brain.

A greater threat with this tech could be brain spyware, particularly in video gaming. This ability to capture neuro-cognitive feedback not only helps with more responsive gaming but could also make available a user’s private information or thought processes without them being aware someone had hacked in and was getting that information from them. A captured EEG signal can reveal your bank card number, determine whether you have a mental illness or are prone to addiction, according to this 2013 research paper.

Emotiv offers both the EPOC and EEG versions of its system. The EPOC headset (listed for $299) allows developers to create their own applications using the licensed SDK software. The EEG headset (listed for $750) adds to what the EPOC offers but also enables users to conduct research from collected raw EEG data.

The technology has a long way to go still, but what we have so far with quadriplegic DJs moving about in virtual worlds, ability to detect mental disorders and to conduct market research from brain waves, is pretty impressive so far.