Australian developers have created a brainwave-reading headset that allows people to move objects with their mind.
The team at the University of Sydney Technology Lab admits it “sounds like science fiction”, but believe the game-changing technology could change the world.
The headset reads the brainwaves of the person wearing them, so thinking about moving a physical object or completing a task becomes a reality without physically moving a finger.
The team at the Tech Lab are not the first to come up with the innovative technology, but innovation leader Jim Cook claimed they would be able to produce the headset for an unprecedented affordable price of less than $200 a piece.
“This is going to make everyone’s lives easier because it’s using your own biometric information – so biometrics being of your body – and it can feed those into your lifestyle,” Mr Cook said.
“We actually had an example the other day, we said if you could wear a headset like this when you were sleeping and then as you woke up you would know that your body is becoming more awake, because you come out of those deep delta rhythms that you’re in when you’re sleeping, and people would be able to have the house wake up around them.
“So you could have your windows, blinds come back, you could have the coffee kick off.
“It sounds like science fiction but it’s not that far away.”
Mr Cook said technologies like smart phones and iPads already use the sense of touch, and ‘gesture technology’ is able to interpret human movement, but this next step would mean not using your hands at all.
“If you look at what touch did, I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have a touch phone, and if you look at what gesture did, that’s really heavily used, and this is the next technology for doing that,” he said.
Other practical applications for the brainwave-reading headsets include enabling those who are disabled to complete tasks like moving a wheelchair in the desired direction by visualising the movement.
Mr Cook said using the technology, people can train their brains to affect things in the physical world.
“You have to learn what it is in your brain that triggers that movement because every brain is a little bit different,” he said.
“There’s something that you focus on that for you works but for someone else might not.”
While the headsets are already available to purchase, the applications to support them are not yet there. Mr Cook predicts that within 18 to 24 months, that will change.
“There’s a lot of research going on in the corporate world right now around the internet of things, which is where you connect various senses like this to various other things that can create actions,” he said.
“The technology is not the hard bit, the creativity to use the technology in an interesting way and a meaningful way is the bit that we’re still working on.
“So I would suspect that within 12 months you’ll be able to buy them in the shops, and I would suspect not long after that they’ll be integrated with real technologies that make them really useful.”