The melding of Man and Machine has had some varied results: Robcop saved the city, but Darth Vader was pretty bad. Still, I have absolutely zero hesitation over the Brain Computer Interface. The system was originally developed in Berlin, and it allows for direct dialog between brain and computer.
Currently on display at the CeBIT trade show in Germany, the ‘mental typewriter’ is able to translate pure thought into movement of a computer’s cursor. Electrical signals from the brain, measured by 128 different electrodes taped to the user’s scalp, are dissected by software, picking out the specific instructional thought from the rest of the brain’s ‘background noise’.
“It’s a very strange sensation…And you can understand from the crowds watching that the potential is huge.”
– Gabriel Curio, Researcher, Charité Medical school of Berlin-Humboldt University, Germany.
In the long-term, researchers hope a device like this will allow people with severe physical disabilities to communicate via a computer. Currently, the system can take up to 10 minutes to type out a sentence from thoughts; too slow for everyday use. As the technology improves, the interface could literally give some people a voice, or the paralyze a way to write. Other teams, even other teams in Germany, are also hard at work on similar systems.