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Sending Messages With Your Brain Via EEG

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the twitter-use-officially-not-all-brainless dept.

Communications 99

An anonymous reader writes "From a University of Wisconsin-Madison announcement: 'In early April, Adam Wilson posted a status update on the social networking Web site Twitter — just by thinking about it. Just 23 characters long, his message, 'using EEG to send tweet,' demonstrates a natural, manageable way in which "locked-in" patients can couple brain-computer interface technologies with modern communication tools. A University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineering doctoral student, Wilson is among a growing group of researchers worldwide who aim to perfect a communication system for users whose bodies do not work, but whose brains function normally.' A brief rundown of the system: Users focus on a monitor displaying a keyboard; the interface measures electrical impulses in the brain to print the chosen letters one by one. Wilson compares the learning curve to texting, calling it 'kind of a slow process at first.' But even practice doesn't bring it quite up to texting speed: 'I've seen people do up to eight characters per minute,' says Wilson. See video of the system in action."

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HAI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27665515)

Will this work on zombies?

TCMP? (4, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665545)

Is this anything like TCMP? [xkcd.com]

Done more than 30 years ago? (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27672563)

Seems to me I remember reading in Ted Nelson's "Computer Lib and Dream Machines" about a working prototype headband and software where a a cursor continually scanned across the alphabet (on a screen) and when the student caused the correct pattern the the letter currently over the cursor would be added to the output. The student could write a sentence this way. Now of course what this article describes is more sophisticated but of course it's also about 35 years later too...

This may be the first time (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27665579)

That a brain was involved in the process of Tweeting.

Re:This may be the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666397)

don't worry when people that use Myspace, Tweeter and such, start using this technology you will still see the same "creative" messages, mood updates, and else.
That thing they write now is all they have inside their heads, so no Brain scanning will help them.

Re:This may be the first time (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27672651)

That a brain was involved in the process of Tweeting.

At least with locked-in people it should make for more interesting reading than the rest :

- I'm in bed
- In bed today
- Will spend the rest of the day in bed
- Still in bed
- In bed
- New nurse
- In bed. Still
- Today I'm in bed
- Bed. Again.

Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665597)

It may not be as quick as texting yet, but as the interfaces and the technology gets better, I don't see why it couldn't be.

For this to be possible at all with this preliminary technology, it shows the future iterations could be amazing.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (2, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665635)

I would think that this would be an excellent application for Dasher, which should bring the speed way up above 8 cpm.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (4, Funny)

johny42 (1087173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666097)

I wonder how fast he would be if he imagined a Dvorak keyboard.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (3, Interesting)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666529)

I used to use Dasher before ALS took my hands completely. It flies by way too fast and the letter choice way too "random" to be useful in the current application.

Perhaps if the sensing algorithm gets an order of magnitude faster and more precise, but in the average lifetime of a person diagnosed today with ALS or locked-in syndrome it will not happen.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

Emb3rz (1210286) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665855)

My thoughts on this.. why not split it up into multiple 'keyboards' and have it briefly flash all letters in each 'keyboard' once at the beginning of each character.. use short-circuiting logic and have it go for the most common letters first. Seems you should be able to get this up to speed in very little time!

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (2, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665895)

Especially if your name is Etaoin Shrdlu.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (2, Interesting)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666357)

Good one. I always employ that sequence (I learned originally in Hoftstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach) when I play Hangman. I never lose.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668391)

I never lose.

You never lose Hangman. You definitely lose friends!

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668479)

Yeah, I must be at like -sqrt(9) friends now.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668837)

I suspect the negative should be inside the square root.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27669343)

Ah. Imaginary friends. Good one. No, I actually meant that I had fewer than zero friends.

Re:Not as quick as texting...yet (1)

Ed_Pinkley (881113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27675303)

What if the word is pygmy? :)

Human Computer Interaction (1)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665601)

This sounds like we're getting that much closer to a human computer interface. How long till we go a little more invasive and have implants that let us "jack in" ala matrix, or andromeda, or any other Sci-Fi show or movie, and start interacting merely by thinking. In the next few hundred years we could turn ourselves into fat unmoving beings plugged from birth to death into computers. Till solar flares overload the system and kill us all at least... Either way, very interesting to see where this line of research takes us as a species.

Re:Human Computer Interaction (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665797)

This sounds like we're getting that much closer to a human computer interface.

Tell him we've already got one.

Monitor + keyboard.

Sure, I know what you mean -- a direct neural interface instead of a kinetic input device (like a keyboard).

I think you're looking at it from the wrong perspective though, in terms of coolness. Instead of implanting a neural interface, wouldn't it be much better if we could just use telekinesis? Then we don't have to deal with extremely messy surgical hardware upgrades.

Now, if I can just get a grant for my midichlorian synthesis research...

Re:Human Computer Interaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666441)

>Now, if I can just get a grant for my midichlorian synthesis research...

Call yourself a bank and request a bail out.

Re:Human Computer Interaction (1)

progmanj (216889) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665907)

I think this would also be good for checking for brain function at all. It could be used to determine the point of brain death. Might also stop all those nasty zombie jokes...

Re:Human Computer Interaction (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668845)

Similar things have been done. Robot arms can be moved by the mind. Rats brains have flown F14 fighters. EEG sensors placed directly onto the brain (rather than onto the head) produce far more detailed information - it's not a stretch to suggest that some day a sensor layer will be placed onto the inside of the skull with a connection to the outside world.

You could, of course, play with EEG technology yourself. The OpenEEG project details the hardware needed and provides some basic software. See if you can find ways to get better results by changing the antenna used. See if you can get results good enough to be able to control your character in Quake or Netrek - a lot simpler than your average F14!

I mean, wiring your home computer to your brain... what could possibly go wrong?

Ya know ... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665603)

... I stare at my Windows system all day and frequently send it messages with my mind, and yet the computer still hasn't exploded ...

In related news (to TFA): This kind of interface was on "House" the other week.

Re:Ya know ... (1)

Indiges (701323) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665671)

It was on House indeed; the article even mentions Wilson!!11oneonetwo

Re:Ya know ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666005)

If a device has been on TV, it must be real and proven~

Re:Ya know ... (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668371)

The device on House was just a binary interface, and it was entirely plausible.

The patient could make a cursor go up, or not make it go up, and that was it. He had to make it go up twice for 'no'. And he had a response time measured in seconds just to get the cursor to go up.

I'm pretty certain that's real. It's actually a good deal less complex than technology that already exists, because I'm pretty certain they've demonstrated full 2-D control of a cursor using brainwaves. Half an axis vs. two full axis. (Of course, this guy hadn't had any training, either. It took him hours to get it to move in the first place.)

And, of course, there's this thing. Although if it takes more than seven seconds to send a character, I suspect they're using a two-phase system...i.e, two brain reads, one to get to the right part of the alphabet (or however it's organized), and one to get to the exact right character.

If each read can be 'two axis', that means that there are eight possible selections on each read. (It's a 3x3 grid, minus the middle square, which is not making a choice.) Two of those would be 8x8 different combo, or 64.

8 characters a minute is excellent. (4, Funny)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665605)

Think how much more Stephen Hawking could gives us with this device.

I know he's in the hossie at the moment and I hope he recovers fully, enough to try this device. :-)

Send one to him. Now!

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27665677)

"hossie"? What are you, 6 years old?

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666161)

Either that or British. It's hard to tell sometimes.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666375)

Didn't you know? He is the star of the new show "Ow! My balls!"
He's expected to talk like this, or they will call him a fag.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (2, Funny)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666625)

Why would they call him a cigarette??

How odd.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666149)

If they are not already in contact with him about this, they probably don't deserve to see any profit from it. This is the first thing I thought of since the stories are right next to each other.

I'm also interested to know if they can improve this to work even when people can't see the keyboard etc.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666171)

I suspect that he gets faster than 8 letters a minute on his speech synthesizer.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (3, Informative)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666749)

Professor Hawking uses a more sophisticated system with word-prediction and a micro-switch activated by a slight motion of his shoulder. he can do much better than 8 cpm. I use a similar system but use eye gaze on a virtual keyboard rather than a sectoring keyboard.

Perhaps he's more accustomed to the sectoring keyboard or no longer has the ocular control for the eye gaze system.

Re:8 characters a minute is excellent. (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668907)

The eyes probably couldn't be steered accurately enough. His muscular control was a mess when I saw him in person in the late 1980s, and it won't have improved since.

On the other hand, if they tune into the neurons that control his arm, they may be able to anticipate what he is going to type. That might help accelerate things for him. It's a bit much to be able to decode the language centres sufficiently to record thoughts directly, but it will eventually get to that point.

Once it is possible to decode his thoughts directly, he would be able to communicate as fast as he can think. Which means that it'll be a babble because he thinks far too fast. On the other hand, it will help him to turn out papers at a fantastic speed.

But you need a screen? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27665629)

If this relies on a screen why not just use the screen and use pupil tracking to determine what letter people want to "type" instead of thinking about it which seems so far slow.

Re:But you need a screen? (2, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665861)

Because the user might not be able to move his eyes.
The idea is that no focusing is required, just thought.

Re:But you need a screen? (1)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666295)

I don't understand. If only thought is required then why is a screen even needed. Why can't one think of a letter without seeing it on a kbd/screen? What am I missing?

Re:But you need a screen? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666373)

The screen is used to figure out just WHAT letter the user is thinking of, until the technology is there to lift the letter out of someone's head. When the letter that blinks is the same as the user is thinking about, a signal is triggered in the brain, and that can be read by EEG.

Granted, it might be possible for someone who knows binary ASCII values or morse code to do without a screen, simply by thinking two different ways that generate a binary signal, but this is probably far more feasible.

Re:But you need a screen? (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666963)

I remeber hearing of a study once where they found that people could on average send text messages faster using morse code then with a cellphone keyboard. Although AFAIK this was before things like predictive text and such. Nevertheless though you just need to find 2 muscles that a person is able to control and from there would be pretty easy to translate that to morse code and then text.

Re:But you need a screen? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27674137)

I remeber hearing of a study once where they found that people could on average send text messages faster using morse code then with a cellphone keyboard. Although AFAIK this was before things like predictive text and such. Nevertheless though you just need to find 2 muscles that a person is able to control and from there would be pretty easy to translate that to morse code and then text.

Be careful what you ask for. You might get to teach someone who can only control his sphincter and prostate...

Re:But you need a screen? (1)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666391)

This particular kind of mind-reading functions by detecting electrical impulses created when the chosen letter flashes blue. If row 1 and column 1 both produce impulses, then the desired letter must be A.

We have a long way to go before you can just think a letter or word and it shows up.

Eye tracking? (4, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665643)

So, when the letter being focused on flashes, the EEG picks it up and figures out which row and column are desired...

So it wouldn't work very well for the blind and its not pulling the letters out of the brain, its just a more sophisticated eye tracking device, similar to the goggles in apache helicopters? Why not just fit patients with those for a faster input method?

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

KaptainKrunch (1226500) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665729)

You beat me to it. Eye tracking would be much faster and easier to implement. FTA "I've seen people do up to eight characters per minute." That is ridiculously slow. Using eye tracking and blink to enter a letter would probably be much better.

Re:Eye tracking? (2, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665925)

Now you're not only assuming that the user can move his eyes, but also blink at will.
The whole point is to bring communications to the very worst cases, who currently have no methods of communication because they can't control their body at all.

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666007)

Eye tracking would be much faster and easier to implement. FTA "I've seen people do up to eight characters per minute." That is ridiculously slow.

Aside from people who cannot move their eyeballs due to some kind of paralysis... so what? It's slow -- now. It's possible that further developments could speed it up a lot. It's also possible that the ceiling on this tech may be higher than the ceiling on eye-tracking... who knows, until there's been a lot more study and advancement?

The first internal combustion vehicles were very much inferior to horse & carriage... but that didn't mean the concept was bad.

Re:Eye tracking? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665975)

So it wouldn't work very well for the blind and its not pulling the letters out of the brain, its just a more sophisticated eye tracking device, similar to the goggles in apache helicopters? Why not just fit patients with those for a faster input method?

Because Apache helicopters are prohibitively expensive even for patients with the best insurance, aside from being illegal for civilians to own. Duh.

Re:Eye tracking? (2, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666923)

'Because Apache helicopters are prohibitively expensive even for patients with the best insurance, aside from being illegal for civilians to own.'

It would probably be much cheaper to pick up a surplus thought-guided control system from the Soviet Mig-31 project on ebay. The only downside (and this is very important) is that you must think in Russian. You can't think in English and transpose it - you must think in Russian.

Re:Eye tracking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27671653)

Hey! We referenced Apache and Firefox in one post. How cool is that?

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 5 years ago | (#27673849)

stephen hawking could probably afford an Apache....
he'd kick some ass too.... not sure about our arms trade agreement with england.... but i'm sure we could work something out where hawking could get an Apache.. as long as he used it to run a few patrols over pirate infested waters to protect international trade interests....

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

prelelat (201821) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666621)

I would call this a first step. They still don't know how the brain works, they are just guessing right now. They can figure what part of the brain deals with say language(as an example) and detect what is firing for what thought and then adjust the machine to say this is what he was thinking about so this is what the device should do.

The more we understand the brain the better a device like this will work. Either way it may never work for a blind person unless you can somehow figure out how to transmit the signal as well as receive it.

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666957)

Because it's not eye tracking. The user sees the letters flash, in sequence, and when the correct one is seen to flash the user changes his/her thoughts in a way detectable by the EEG. The system then inputs that letter. The eyes don't actually have to move (though it can be hard to see a letter since the usable area of the vision range is quite small).

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#27667141)

While technically you are correct. If i have a device that remotely heats my dog until it changes the channel for me via a sophisticated cabinet of lights and pull levers, I have a whole lot of overkill to achieve the same functionality as a an infrared remote control, except it doesn't use the infra-red LED or Sensors built in to standard remotes and TV's.

Instead, this device figures out what you're focusing on (looking at in 99/100 cases) flashes without interfacing or reading the eye. If the object of your focus flashes, it picks it up and can figure out that you're looking at the third one down and 2nd from the left. It doesn't track the eyes, but it figures out what letter you're looking at through a sophisticated cabinet or lights, sensors, and pull levers (or just a simple EEG machine).

Eventually it will do more, but as of right now, its just an elaborate way of figuring out what you're looking at. (And some day, I'll get Fido to get me a beer).

Re:Eye tracking? (1)

Matt Weston (1538105) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668333)

I also wonder why the user is presented with a full alphabet. I would have thought that some form of predictive input, such as T9 would be much faster - it seems pretty much perfect in this scenario, and could easily leverage existing T9 software. I'm going to go ahead and assume I'm missing something. Can someone who is more informed correct me here?

f i r s t p o s t (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27665651)

d a m n  t h i s  t h i n g  i s  s l o w

Re:f i r s t p o s t (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666527)

Actually, I was sort of wondering about the quote from the summary:

Wilson compares the learning curve to texting, calling it 'kind of a slow process at first.' But even practice doesn't bring it quite up to texting speed: 'I've seen people do up to eight characters per minute,' says Wilson.

I don't know if Wilson has seen how fast people really get with texting, but it's fast. This would have to get a lot faster than 8 characters per minute to even be close to texting.

Re:f i r s t p o s t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666915)

As you quoted yourself, he was comparing the learning curve to texting, not the speed or final result. It takes some time to get used to how texting works and to become good at it. Seems like he's saying this is the same, regardless of how fast the result is. It's a similar learning experience.

To use a familiar car analogy, the learning process for driving a car would be similar to learning to drive a speed boat. They both have accelerators and steering and such. They both take practice to get use to the "feel" of how they handle, etc.... and in the end, cars usually blow boats away for top speed... but cars and boats are very different vehicles in the end. The learning curve is just similar since they are both vehicles that move forward at high speed and steer.

Same with this. Texting, and neural interface (sort of). A similar process is involved in learning to use either and they are both input devices. But very different technologies targeted at different people and devices... just like cars vs. boats.

I'd also compare this to learning to touch type on a keyboard. Which is again very different (and much faster!) than texting in the end... but it's a comparable learning curve. Which is what Wilson was trying to articulate.

Re:f i r s t p o s t (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668419)

Hell, I text that fast, and I suck at it.

Hell, I actually type, with no predictive stuff, that fast, on a cell phone numeric pad.

Hell of a fruedian slip (3, Funny)

Cyberwasteland (1467347) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665773)

As this technology gets better isn't there going to be a big chance for really bad Fruedian slips? XD

Re:Hell of a fruedian slip (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665939)

Who the heck is "Frued"?

Re:Hell of a fruedian slip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27667115)

Well Mr. Pedantic, you know full well who the poster was talking about. I guess you're obviously the better person since you know how to spell Freud better than he/she does?

SPELING NAZZIES FOR TEH WIN! What would Slashdot EVER do without you?

Get a real hobby. Seriously.

Re:Hell of a fruedian slip (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668439)

His mother?

Re:Hell of a fruedian slip (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27667007)

I hope, they included a backspace key. ^^

I see a way to speed it up. (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665813)

Instead of flickering one row or column at a time, flicker ALL the letters simultaneously in different patterns. The brainwave trace should follow the one you're watching and the wait for it to be identified and confirmed will be much shorter.

= = = =

How is this better than eye tracking?

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

zentinal (602572) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666213)

How is this better than eye tracking?

What if you're blind? What if you can't move your eyes?

That's how it's better than eye tracking.

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666449)

What if you're blind? What if you can't move your eyes?

That's how it's better than eye tracking.

How is this one better than eye tracking if you're blind?

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666979)

What if you're blind? What if you can't move your eyes?

That's how it's better than eye tracking.

How is this one better than eye tracking if you're blind?

Maybe the thoughts could shift a dynamic braille device, or if you can't even feel, you could think "up" or "down" an audible alphabet list (not for cube farm use).

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#27667261)

How is this better than eye tracking?

What if you're blind?

The new technique works by recognizing, from brainwaves, when a letter on a screen is blinked. I doubt that will work for the blind.

What if you can't move your eyes?

It's not clear to me whether the EEG device is recognizing the brain signal alterations from the letter being concentrated on blinking or the letter being looked at blinking. If the former it may work for someone whose eyes are paralyzed. If the latter, it certainly won't. (I suspect it may be the latter, since the visual processing fires a LOT of nerves.)

Also: If the eyes are truly paralyzed the person is effectively blind. At a minimum the nictations (microscopic eye movements) are needed to keep the image from fading out.

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27670697)

You can't run dasher on nictations.

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#27667567)

How is this better than eye tracking?

I imagine it's substantially cheaper. You can get home EEG devices for about $100 US. The tech in this is probably not much harder.

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1)

Amorya (741253) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668493)

Eye tracking's pretty cheap these days. We let undergraduates play with it in my department. All you need is an infared light source (LEDs), an infared camera, and some clever software.

Re:I see a way to speed it up. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27668925)

What you're suggesting involves much more sophisticated signal processing methods involving narrow-band spectral detection. What this is is just a P300 speller, hooked up to twitter. What they're picking out using EEG is a broad event-related potential known as the P300 which is detectable by averaging traces together. You can find more about how it works here: http://www.gtec.at/products/g.BCIsys/P300_Speller.htm

And honestly, it's not that much better than an eye tracker. It just uses fancier technology.

Optimization (4, Insightful)

Rival (14861) | more than 4 years ago | (#27665849)

FTA:

"The interface consists, essentially, of a keyboard displayed on a computer screen. "The way this works is that all the letters come up, and each one of them flashes individually," says Williams. "And what your brain does is, if you're looking at the 'R' on the screen and all the other letters are flashing, nothing happens. But when the 'R' flashes, your brain says, 'Hey, wait a minute. Something's different about what I was just paying attention to.' And you see a momentary change in brain activity."

Their "cognitive click from flash recognition" interface sounds an awful lot like the retrace timing system used for the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NES_Zapper [wikipedia.org] .

I'm curious what kind of language optimization has been added, if any. Do they use predictive text of some sort?

Also, it seems a waste to limit the input to a display of a static keyboard (other than ease of use for people who know where to look for certain letters.) Why not have a dynamic interface, something alongs the lines of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasher/ [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Optimization (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666525)

Damn you beat me to it. This tech basically turns the brain into the world's most complex light gun.

Re:Optimization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27670583)

Funny you should mention that. I actually emailed Dr. Justin Williams (one of the men involved in the researcher), about Dasher as I thought the projects seemed like such a good fit.

Turns out he beat me to the punch. Here is what he said in reply:

"Thanks for the interest in the work. We have worked with the dasher folks before and had some success. You can see an interesting demonstration we did a couple of years ago:

http://www.bci2000.org/BCI2000/Videos/Entries/2006/12/1_Spelling_using_EEG_and_Dasher.html

We have continued to be interested in this, but found that for some reason certain people in our subject population have real difficulties with the interface. For those who could use it, it took quite a bit of training. For the twitter project we went back to the more basic P300 application for a variety of reasons, namely because it was very simple to write out the short phrases that twitter work with. We will keep working on our dasher interface, so keep an eye out on our website."

Oh well :)

Obligatory... (3, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666001)

Kif Kroker: One beep for yes, two beeps for no.
[Fry beeps once] ... [Fry beeps twice]
Captain Zapp Brannigan: Double yes. Guilty.

Finally!!!! (1)

Erythros (140001) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666043)

P R O N

in 30 seconds, without tying up my hands..

Steven Hawking? (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666069)

When will Hawking get one?

Speaking of Hawking, they should change this so that it is full words. It is probably easier to get the comp to recognize the difference between left or right than A,B,C,D,.... Use the interface that Hawking has on his computer, where it just narrows down the word groups.

P300 Explanation and Anecdotal Info (2, Informative)

Beefmancer (1260556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666121)

This system has been around for a while; I've seen it demonstrated live twice, and it didn't work at all either time. In my opinion, even in best conditions (bald patient, shit-tons of electrodes, professional setup, well-trained subject) it doesn't work well enough to fuel science-fiction fantasies, and probably never well. For locked-in patients, who can do nothing but move their eyes, though, it's an awesome technology. They made a movie recently about such a patient who spent years using it to write a novel: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401383/ [imdb.com] .

Here's how it works - metal electrodes on the brain (EEG) pick up an analog signal, and *any* stimulus which is particularly salient to a subject creates a spike in the signal 300ms after that stimulus appears (this spike is called the P300, there's a good wiki article on it). If you have a dude staring at a grid of letters, you can tell which one he's looking at by hunting for the big spikes 300 ms after the right letter flashes. The only problem is the signal-to-noise ratio, which is notoriously terrible in EEG, though of course there are people out there working on improving it.

Re:P300 Explanation and Anecdotal Info (1)

Beefmancer (1260556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666205)

Whoops, looks like I misremembered - the patient in that movie wrote by blinking at a grid, not via P300. My bad.

OMG! (1)

kaikane (1534025) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666137)

I so want to do this! (Thinking really hard now...) Is it working?

This message typed with brain waves (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666175)

I typed this message with brain waves. I did this making waves that actuated the input mechanism. The input mechanism is a complex chemical-based detector which translates the waves into physical movements, which it then translates into electrical signals using crude switches. In the article, a device is described which uses a mechanism which is different in particulars, but gives the exact same result (though slower).

New!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666181)

Sending messages from your brain via oral vocalization! Have any of you guys heard of this new discovery....

Eight characters per minute? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666221)

Perfect for saying "KILL ME " over and over again.

Does anyone know why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27666773)

They chose this method, rather than flashing single letters in sequence and looking for the change in activity when the desired letter flashes?

Now imagine... (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666867)

A Beowulf cluster of those. I wonder if the on-screen keyboard they are using is Dvorak. The Dvorak keyboard layout is far more efficient. Qwerty was deliberately designed to slow people down. I personally switched to a Dvorak keyboard on my EEG device, and I went from 8 to 12 letters per minute and experience way less eyestrain now.

Think about, *really* think about, growing a new.. (1)

joshamania (32599) | more than 4 years ago | (#27666943)

Think about growing a new arm...or a new anything. It might be an appendage you've never previously imagined before. "Thought" is not the same as motor control. I don't think my fingers into typing this post at 60wpmish. If I had to think about it it would take forever to type.

Now think about if you had a third arm growing out of your chest. How would you control it? Without the motor control that has been learned over several years of childhood and adolescence, what good will it do you? A good question is whether or not adults will ever even be able to master this technology.

It's my understanding that cochlear implants are useless for anyone born without hearing that hasn't had them installed by, say, age 5 or 6 or so. The reason being is that the brain must develop its auditory region during childhood and becomes incapable of making such a "major upgrade" after early childhood.

If this is the case, you may see young children doing amazing and unheard of things with these new interfaces, but us, the old man wannabes are just gonna be shit outta luck on this one. We may be stuck with the klugey manner of thinking of a flashing R while our children are growing new "arms" to control the world with.

Damnit, now I've made myself jealous. On a thought provoking side note finish: Right around now is when the generation that will have no idea WTF a dial tone is begins...

Think! (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#27667339)

I think I can, I think I cam!

any key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27667361)

Maybe they should inlude the any key, u know for those special people.....

Open Source EEG-Controlled Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27667429)

http://entrainer.sourceforge.net

Looks like this program is in the process of adding EEG input via the OCZ NIA. Interesting stuff...

They're doing it wrong. (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668321)

He already knows what the keyboard looks like. He should have made it where he thinks of the character and it appears rather than focusing the eyes on a keyboard. The problem with the keyboard approach is that think of a key on the keyboard. In a sense you think of a image of the area round that key. Say the H key, but in reality you visualize the keys around it as well.

Now you know the shapes of letters. Think of an L and that's about it.

It would be cool if you could think entire words as well, but it's more likely that we visualize many words IE Apple or Orange, but if you visualize the words it's like the keyboard problem again, you're visualizing the characters around it and that brings up interference.

Language directly from the brain? (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668571)

I'd have to say that this is kind of the wrong way to go about expressing yourself directly from your brain. The brain doesn't naturally think in language. Language is manmade and is a "higher level protocol" if you will, so something that directly accesses brainwaves (via EEG) and tries to output English or another language is kind of dumb IMHO.

Why not make something that expresses emotion (happy/sad/mad/regretful/passionate) first? It'd probably be way easier to get directly from the ole noggin.

Disabled post to Twitter with power of the body! (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#27668649)

TWATTER, Arsebook, Tuesday — A direct neural interface to post on Twitter [today.com] has been created by Adam Wilson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"We originally hooked it to the brain," said Wilson, "but only a very limited selection of messages came out, that appeared to be coming from somewhere else. So we've just gone directly to the penis without the middleman."

Male humans suffer from having functional bodies trapped with almost completely paralysed minds. The penis is an organ used by male humans primarily for thinking and making important decisions. It is also used as an outlet for useless bodily excreta, such as sperm.

The messages -- or "twats" -- cover the whole range of human experience in 140 characters, from "ANOTHER PINT WHAT AN EXCELLENT IDEA" to "DYING FOR A SLASH" to "GDAY LUV NICE TITS" to "WOOHOO GOT A GOER HERE" to "OH DEAR GOD WOKE UP DEAD WTF IS THAT MUST CHEW ARM OFF."

"The next stage is a feedback loop for at-replies," said Wilson. "We're hoping to create the dream of every internet user: a response system that will send five hundred volts through someone's pants when they say something unbelievably stupid."

Youtube link (1)

Thorwak (836943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27671669)

Fortunately someone posted the video on youtube so one doesn't have to be able to play .mov videos..

No sound, but maybe the original .mov doesn't have sound?

Link [youtube.com]

Wrong category (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#27673973)

Shouldn't this be under the Borg icon instead of the old phone? After all this is the very basics of Borg communication... Ahh but we used that icon for Bill, right?

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