Thought-controlled computers a bit closer


We’ve gone from the mouse to Kinect-style gesture control in some 30 years. Might the next frontier in computer interfaces be controlling machines just by thinking about them?

A recent breakthrough from the University of Washington shows that when technology lets the brain control a device such as a robotic arm, the brain is behaving in the same way as if it was commanding the relevant muscles to carry out the act in reality.

In other words, by thinking about kicking a ball, the area of the brain active in doing so behaves in the same way as if you were really kicking a ball.

That means that in brain/machine interaction, just thinking about an action might prompt a machine to do it for you.

Mind-controlled technology itself isn’t new. Last year American quadriplegic Cathy Hutchinson used a robotic arm to sip coffee from a bottle thanks to a sensor array connected to her brain that relayed commands to the arm via a computer.

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