I’ve been tracking EEG-related stories for many years. This perfect Valentine’s Day technology story: ‘EEG Dating’ matches people based on their brainwave data is certainly worth adding to the catalog. The end goal:
Many dating services ask countless questions. With EEG matching, there should be no need for the questions that most people shade the truth with.
I have no idea what this ‘Color Spectrum Analysis of EEG Data’ (from Biometric Dating) is, but it’s sure pretty:
Granted, they are in the process of testing their theory by using data from long-term married couples. I sure hope they’re using happily married couples, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous!
Oh, and don’t forget to try: Computers can read your mind! (still amazing!).
The latest incarnation of EEG-based devices comes from Muse – The Brainwave Sensing Headband.
Just like other BCI claims, How Mind-Controlled Games Work – And Why It’s Way, Way Bigger Than That is a new approach to consumer brain monitoring applications. From the Muse site (my highlighting):
Our early apps will be focused on building the core of your mind to improve intellectual skills such as memory and concentration, or emotional skills like maintaining composure in high stress situations. Other Muse apps would be just plain fun stuff so you could paint or compose music with your mind or play video games using your mind as the game controller.
The FAQ assures you they’re not mind reading and that it’s not a mind control device.
Taking the “brain heath” approach, see CES 2013: InteraXon debuts Muse along with Brain Health System application, is an interesting twist. I’m a big fan of EEG-based technology. The research efforts and advancements in the BCI field have the potential to improve many lives.
InteraXon is probably doing great things (e.g. the headband is very clever) and they appear to be active in the BCI community. My only issue is with the marketing claims being made. Just like the mind control game controllers that have come before (see Turning the Mind Into a Joystick), the reality of the current technology is still not able to live up to most people’s expectations. This seems especially true when it comes to something as subjective as concentration or stress. Also, painting with your mind — really?
InteraXon raised over $287,000 through Crowdfunding at Indiegogo: MUSE: The Brain-Sensing Headband that lets you control things with your mind. Many of the contributions levels included receiving a device and the brain fitness app. They also expect to provide developers with a SDK by mid-year. That might be fun to play with.
The recent Time Magazine article Thought Control (subscription required) describes what is essentially another brain-computer interface. What’s novel about this device is that the EEG signal is monitored from dry electrodes on the arm or leg. The BodyWave® Brain Wave Monitoring (pdf) system developed by Freer Logic claims to allow measurement of brain wave activity away from the head:
BodyWave simply views brain energy as a field, collects the field energy as if the brain were a radio tower broadcasting from the brain and through the body.
For the purposes of teaching “stress control, increase attention, and facilitate peak mental performance”, this may well be an adequate method. Not having to wear the more traditional EEG head gear is certainly an advantage. Providing reliable control of computer interaction tasks via either “mind reading” method is not likely to happen any time soon (see Turning the Mind into a Joystick).
More “mind reading” hyperbole in today’s New York Times Magazine: The Cyborg in Us All.
I’ve talked about EEG-related technology many times in the past. Here are some quotes from the article:
This creates a pulse in his brain that travels through the wires into a computer. Thus, a thought becomes a software command.
We’re close to being able to reconstruct the actual music heard in the brain and play it.
… a “telepathy helmet” that would allow soldiers to beam thoughts to one another.
The NeuralPhone was meant to demonstrate that one day we might mind-control the contact lists on our phones.
The general public has two reactions when the lay press publishes this kind of stuff:
- I always knew this would come true. I.e. perpetuation of scientific fantasies.
- This is really scary stuff. I don’t want anybody reading my mind — or worse, controlling it.
If you know anything about the underlying techniques and algorithms you also know that “mind reading” and useful brain-controlled interfaces
are a long way off. Because the article fails to provide any sort of time-frame perspective, why won’t someone think these capabilities exist now.
The real problem I have with these kinds of articles is that this is important work that could potentially improve the quality of life for many disabled individuals. Hyping it up to be something it’s not doesn’t help anyone.
One more quote:
“This is freaky.” And it was.
Huh? … I think the NYT needs to improve their editorial oversight.
There have been some interesting EEG related stories lately:
I’ve followed BCI: Brain Computer Interface and EEG work for a long time. There is still a long way to go on the “mind reading” front, but these types of developments are all encouraging.