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Toys You Control With Your Brain

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-thinking-is-hard dept.

Toys 83

Kaliann writes "Toys that respond to brainwaves are the next generation of unique user interfaces. The Washington Post looks at the current market appeal and future uses of technology that can meaningfully respond to the thoughts of a user. Currently the toys have a fairly simple basic idea: the harder you concentrate the more the object moves. A sensor on the forehead picks up brain waves that are associated with concentration, then levitates a ball in response: basic biofeedback. While this may seem to be a rather humble beginning, progress in this field could have astounding consequences in the advancement of technologies devoted to thought-controlled devices. As the author points out, Jedi Beer Pong is within our grasp."

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New Janx Spirit (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27690743)

Now we can finally use some devices to measure which of our beverages might contain some Old Janx Spirit [dedanaan.com] .

Totally unexpected side effects (4, Interesting)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691121)

These toys may be cool, but I can already see a fault with them. I'm fairly knowledgeable about neurofeedback, and I know that messing with the wavelengths of your neocortex without knowing what you're doing can end up making it work improperly. It's best that you consult a licensed (and experienced) practitioner in the field before toying around with these. All though I don't know the details of the frequency that it responds to, I know that there is a delicate balance that must be held between all frequencies to make the mind work at optimum efficiency. Typically, when you even start your neurofeedback sessions, you have to get some big-shot neurologist to take a look at the initial scans (you'll be lucky to find it below a 1000 dollars). I know people who have received full neurofeedback/MRI treatment to get rid of ADD, and they ended up spending around 10k. If you're experienced at controlling all frequencies, or you have received neurofeedback before, there shouldn't be that much of a problem.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691811)

A bottle of Old Janx Spirit is a lot cheaper. But it's expensive to get to a starport that serves it.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692191)

I agree with Hojima, but for different reasons. Much cooler than any toy you can "control with your brain" are the games you can play with your brain itself. I'm a little too old for entheogens, but meditation can lead to some real fun and games, not to mention lower blood pressure and fewer stress related illnesses. Years ago, when I was recovering from an injury, I had a doctor recommend one of those "Sound and Light Machines", and that has led to a couople of decades of exploration of consciousness, lucid dreaming and (again) relaxation and stress reduction. If you want to experience the ultimate FPS or role-playing game, just try some lucid dreaming. I'm now on my third sound and light machine, a Procyon, and I find it really useful and fun. I hate to fly (in airplanes, although flying in a lucid dream is a blast), so now I put on the goggles and earphones hooked to my Procyon before take off, and even the longest, most tedious flight seems to, well, fly by.

Finally, learning is the best "mind game" of all. Learn to play some Bach on the piano, or to strum a ukulele or other instrument. Get a set of bongo drums and learn about the universe of rhythm.

I understand that this kind of learning creates other positive changes in the brain that can have a positive impact on lots of areas in your life. Plus, chicks dig musicians.

I wouldn't worry too much about getting some "licensed practioner" to sign off on a little personal brain research. Far as I can tell, people have been doing such things since at least Plato. As long as you have some other people in your life who can pull your coat if you start to get a little whacky, you'll be OK.

lucid dreaming (2, Informative)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693937)

As far as lucid dreaming goes, you don't even need to buy any fancy gear. If you haven't yet had a lucid dream (one where you are aware of the fact you are dreaming, AND you can sort of control it. Not really control it, but sort of nudge it along in the direction you want. Frinstance the dream where you are being chased by something, you can summon a +5 vorpal blade and confront it. The dream where you are naked in the student center and you are late for your exam and you don't know where it is and you didn't study anyway, you can change it so you are naked in your dorm room with that hot chick in biochem you had been meaning to ask out... I usually wake up at that point because that is stretching reality TOO far, even for a dream...but anyway)

As I was saying, if you've never had a lucid dream, all you need to do is keep a dream notebook. When you wake up, try to remember as much as possible and write down everything before it fades away. In two weeks, your conscious mind will be more "in tune" with your subconscious mind, dreams will be easier to remember and in greater detail, AND while you are dreaming, you will more easily become aware of the fact, and you can change things if you want. If you change it too much, you will likely wake up, but that's no big deal. They can also revert to regular dreaming easily, because if you are not actively controling things, you tend to forget in the dream that you are dreaming.

Re:lucid dreaming (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27700637)

i tried a dream notebook. In doing so i realized two things.
1) My subconscious is really farked up
2) My penmanship at 6am is horrid.

As for lucid dreaming, i have regular HL2/L4D dreams where my subcon wants me to die horribly. My guns jam or do nothing. But i use my game knowledge to say "no, a sniper rifle at this range would have taken that bastard down". It works pretty well, until i become too aware that i'm changing the dream and wake up.

3) i kinda wish i had that machine in "Until the End of the World". Some of my dreams are really fracking cool, others i just want to know what the hell is wrong with me.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

NeuroCog (1028524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698797)

For starters, try IONS [ions.org] psi games [ions.org] , as they call them.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (2, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692361)

These toys may be cool, but I can already see a fault with them. I'm fairly knowledgeable about neurofeedback, and I know that messing with the wavelengths of your neocortex without knowing what you're doing can end up making it work improperly.

Nah. You can't break your brain just by thinking. The brain can and will adapt, unless you have serious problems. Have you ever been daydreaming on the highway, and suddenly you realize you don't know what happened in the last five miles? Yet you didn't crash, because your brain can drive even if you don't pay attention. And it's a complex task, too. Just remember what it felt like when you started out.

The problem with this is that it lacks the act of moving one of your bodyparts to trigger the change, which is what you've been doing your whole life, and probably can control much better than this thing can read your mind. Just imagine what it would be like having to concentrate on the gas pedal to keep going.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27692955)

You probably don't remember when you first started walking, but watch a child do it. Looks a lot like heavy concentration to me.

You have to concentrate, at first, to command your brain to carry out tasks you're unfamiliar with. Over time, you get used to it, and this becomes much easier.

I anticipate these games will be similar. Right now we learn, over time, to manipulate joysticks to bring about on-screen changes. Now we'll send different brain signals to do similar movements on-screen. The difference is that the signals we'll be using won't cause in-body reactions, but that's no big deal. It's still the same basic concept.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

cyberseptic (1315171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27695671)

What!? Ok, you are going to have to explain your reasoning to me. This device works off of EEG technology, which is basically a fancy voltage measurement. To my knowledge the toy isn't exactly pumping signals into your brain. It's my understanding that the "neurofeedback" this toy provides is simply the visual feedback you receive when you make the ball rise. So, it seems to me that unless you are terrified of voltage meters, and possibly batteries, you probably shouldn't run for the hills when this thing hits the stores.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27696405)

Not really. Neurofeedback is a form a facilitated meditation. The majority of the states of the mind can be monitored and influenced via the neocortex. The wavelengths that can occur in the mind are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Theta. Each of these frequencies can occur in the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital. When you're consciously aware of that brain state, which you obviously normally aren't, you can influence it. It's like controlling muscles you never knew you had, however the consequences span much further. It's been a while since I read an in-depth book on the subject, so just assume the following scenario. Each balance of each wavelength has its own consequences. Lets say low alpha in the occipital paired with high delta in the temporal results in hypnogogia. It's a hallucinogenic state, so interest might form in it, and it thus becomes a habituated state that you retain after the neurofeedback. If this persists, which it most likely will, it may change the nature of your thinking. Each change in the state of mind has a change in the frequencies. If a person is both intellectually and creatively a genius, chances are he has a natural talent for changing these frequencies at will. If, however, the same person were to be stimulated by the video games, and hence inclined to follow this new nature of changing the state, it will set him off track. It would be like taking a boxer with perfect form, and paying him for tasks that naturally disturb his reflexes. The task however, could improve, impoverish, or do nothing to his form. It's all quite variable, which is why I give the warning.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

cyberseptic (1315171) | more than 5 years ago | (#27697265)

Well, that's pretty interesting and I didn't know those things. I am not an expert in neuroscience, but the things you cite as potentially damaging (gaining conscious or functional control of one or several brain waves) seem to me to occur quite often in normal humans that never suffer ill effects. The obvious example might be an experienced meditator. You yourself mentioned a highly intelligent polymath. Intense concentration would probably be another brain state that fits the bill. Yet we aren't warned by the surgeon general that "Concentration may be hazardous to your health" and Tibet is still populated by seemingly normal monks...so I don't yet understand how these brain states would differ from potentially hazardous ones.
If you could provide a link to further information (or journal manuscripts) about potentially damaging brain states of the type you described, I would be very interested to take a look at it.

Re:Totally unexpected side effects (1)

aetherworld (970863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27698693)

ACTUALLY, the methods and applications of neurofeedback are widely disputed and science has yet to proof that everything the neurofeedback practitioners tell us is true. Thing is, you're basically telling me that if I concentrate too hard, myy brain gets damaged. Without scientific proof that statement opens up a Box of Pandora. Hm... I probably should quit my job to preserve my higher brainfunctions. 8 hours of concentrating a day can't be good.

Children's toys can be training tools. (-1, Offtopic)

immakiku (777365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27690783)

Since most adults are not trained from childhood to have "telekinesis", would introducing such a UI help train specific areas of the children's brains so that they are better equipped to use this "telekinesis"?

Re:Children's toys can be training tools. (0)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691131)

I would say that depends on the level of effort required for necessary interaction with this type of interface. If it requires thinking in new or even slightly different ways, then yes I'm sure children will develop and reinforce those skills from early on. Then again, with refinement, it might make use of already commonly used structures in the brain.

Re:Children's toys can be training tools. (1)

gnesterenko (1457631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691935)

Levitating a ball by concentrating? This article is a bit behind. Please refer to:

http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/ocz_peripherals/nia-neural_impulse_actuator [ocztechnology.com]

And for an earlier poster, no these things will never work straight out the box (not for years anyway), because just like teaching your brain to control your muscles, teaching your brain to control the computer is also a long learning process. It requires mental states and processes that, in some cases, are completely foreign to our brains. Prothetics are a little different because the brain already knows how to control an arm, so by teaching the computer exactly what signal to expect for any given motion, when you get into things like controling additional "appendages" beyond your regular biological nerves, you are, in effect, teaching your brain to use a whole brand new appandage. Now, some of these are very simple - such as the levitating ball if you concentrate trick. It will simply read the brain-wave intensity and if strong enough, the ball will rise. But when you start getting into things even as simple as the OCZ NIA above, where only 3 different brain-waves or "fingers" they call them are picked up by the device, the task for your brain is signifiantly increased. Its never as easy as just WANTing to move forward - the brain wave associated with controling the device has nothing to do with your desire to move forward - at least not right away. Only with long long practice and calibration does your brain adapt and learn and able to actually control a device. Its almost impossible to explain in words the state of mind required for something like this to work. The closest I can come is - for those who have ever practiced mediation or a martial art - the empty zen state one can sometimes achieve with these practices. Thinking nothing, blank. You then throw yourself into the game and watch as your character moves around completely randomly, or so it would seem at first. After a few hours, you begin to see that the motion isn't entirely random. And after many many more hours the subconsious connection between a certain state of mind and the resulting action on the computer screen begins to solidify. You practice long enough, and controling the machine WILL be as easy as walking or lifting your arm - you never even have to think about it - just WANT to do it.

"The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."

The Clit (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27690797)

No... wait... that's a toy you control with your fingers, tongue, and dick.

Re:The Clit (2, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693287)

And wallet.... you forgot the wallet.

I've got two toys I can control with my mind (5, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27690831)

Namely, my hand and my penis. I can guarantee they've provided me with more enjoyment over the past few decades than anything in TFA ever could.

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#27690931)

Wait. I get that your hand is mind controlled. But are you sure it's your mind? Not your little friend's?

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (4, Funny)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691291)

Not having played with your penis I can't really state this as a fact, but I don't think I'd enjoy it very much.

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27694131)

It is actually rated very highly on metacritic, but so is GTA IV, and I didn't find that game to be very fun. Also, GTA IV has a much lower replay value than my penis.

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27694255)

But you still need to buy new hardware, to be able to play. Like a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass. *ducks* ^^

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691597)

Sorry to hear about your other appendages.

I want to flatulate all over you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27691655)

Smell my gases, fag...

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693577)

Though the hardware is pretty limited, and there's only a few available games.

Re:I've got two toys I can control with my mind (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27710625)

Well, just wait until they can stimulate both the reward region and pleasure region of your brain...
Penises get tired after playing a while with them, direct stimulation of the brain, however, could very well mean the end of the civilization.

Hey McFly! (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27690869)

You mean you have to use your hands? That's a baby's toy!

This is gonna cause (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27690877)

a lot of nosebleeds :/

I call prior art. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27690895)

I've convinced plenty of stoned chicks that they can move my penis with their minds.

Androids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27690945)

"The harder you concentrate the more the object moves"

Ok take one object ...Living Doll ... I think you know where I am going with this gents

We had this glorified biofeedback crap for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27690981)

I see no real advances beyond the slow, unfocused, barely moving, concentrating real real hard, with little more than one degree of freedom for decades.

I see no real advancements beyond some newspaper's need to fill column space with dross.

Total Body Replacement? (3, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691009)

Cybernetic experiments have proven that a monkey can control an arm through brain electrodes exactly like he could move his own arm. The future of prosthetics and articulated replacement limbs lies in this control scheme for certain and is promised to a bright future. And possibly a league of android sport teams remote controlled by geeks with headsets!

Re:Total Body Replacement? (0)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691201)

don't count on any real technology soon. The problem is that the brain doesn't have a language. People learn things differently and certain neural connections mean one thing to one person and another thing to another person. Outside of the pretty much useless technology of detecting the amplitude of brain waves, there really won't be any really cool advances in this I think.

Re:Total Body Replacement? (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691375)

So there's a training curve. You think people wouldn't spend a little time teaching the machine to read them so they could avoid manual labor? I know it didn't work so well with early speech recognition, but then, the payoff for finishing the training was less impressive.

As TFA notes, they've already had some success with using more targeted "mind reading" implants to enable full body paralysis patients to control wheelchairs, check e-mail, turn lights on and off, etc. By approaching this from two angles, one where they get full function, but are highly invasive, and another with limited function, but non-invasive, they may end up finding a happy medium.

Modern medicine (in the sense of heavily evidence based trials) has been moving at the same speed as computing. Don't write off this technology just because the initial steps are so small. The home PC was arguably introduced with Pong, this isn't so different.

Re:Total Body Replacement? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27694189)

Speech technology is a good comparison. Speaker-independent speech recognition is cheap and fairly reliable now but I don't see it appearing in any consumer items other than cell phones which already have the mike and audio processor. If nobody is willing to pay a few bucks for speech input, why would they go to a great deal of trouble for mind control other than in the few and very expensive cases that require it -- like the full body paralysis folks. That isn't a big enough market to drive costs down from the laboratory curiosity level.

Re:Total Body Replacement? (2, Funny)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691525)

Cybernetic experiments have proven that a monkey can control an arm through brain electrodes exactly like he could move his own arm.
The future of prosthetics and articulated replacement limbs lies in this control scheme for certain and is promised to a bright future.

Bright future? Oh yeah?
and who the hell would want a monkey to control their arms?

Re:Total Body Replacement? (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27694531)

and who the hell would want a monkey to control their arms?

The various arms of government are already controlled by monkeys. Mechanical cyborg arms don't seem like much of a stretch of the imagination.

Fuck it. While Hawking's still in the hospital, (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693103)

they should take away his voice-syntho box, and replace it with one of these ping-pong gizmo widgets and tell him that it's his new mouth. I'm betting that Stevie has a working prototype by XMas 2K10 of something that makes this look like a Newton to his iPhone. So to speak.

faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (4, Funny)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691111)

Are these things going to "just work" or is there going to be some sort of "not enough midichlorians" BS problem when I get mine home?

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (2, Interesting)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691215)

Apparently they perform more or less efficiently depending on how well you are able to "concentrate". TFA notes that lawyers and others in jobs that require a lot of multitasking can't control the ball nearly as well. Single minded types, (e.g. copy editors and IT) tend to do it rather well. I imagine ADHD is a problem for it.

On the other hand, there is some evidence that behavioral therapy can mitigate ADHD symptoms. Perhaps this "toy" could be therapeutic for users; by incentivizing concentration and providing real time feedback, it might be a form of self-therapy.

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691489)

Apparently they perform more or less efficiently depending on how well you are able to "concentrate". TFA notes that lawyers and others in jobs that require a lot of multitasking can't control the ball nearly as well. Single minded types, (e.g. copy editors and IT) tend to do it rather well. I imagine ADHD is a problem for it.

It also seems to really help if you think in Russian while you concentrate.

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692435)

Great! I can't wait for the Firefox mind-control extension, you could just feel lucky and Google will take you to some unnamed website full of whatever you wanted.

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

wjwlsn (94460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691663)

I don't know if I have ADHD (I suspect I might), but I do know that I often have trouble quieting my mind enough to start concentrating heavily on something. When I am successful, I can superfocus for extended periods of time... but getting there is difficult, and I'm not able to control it. A toy like this could be useful for someone like me, as a sort of warmup for serious work. It could also be useful as a sort of "meditation trainer".

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692219)

The toy looks like a ball in a tube, I'm sure this will be all the rage with the ADHD crowd..c'mon it's not even shiny! It needs more p'zaz like multi colored leds that flash and strobe in correspondence to how well you control the ball.

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692225)

shh, there are no midichlorians, god dammit!

the best we can do is try to forget!

Re:faux Jedi powers are right around the corner! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27694479)

Well, you still need a brain. Duh. ^^

in communist russia (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691335)

the toys control your brain

Re:in communist russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27691829)

Not tolstoy?

Re:in communist russia (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692085)

"THE" toys? Comrade, in soviet russia, definite article uses YOU, not reverse.

Nintendo (2, Informative)

firegarden7 (808626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691369)

I would be very interested to see what the creative minds at Nintendo could do with this technology, once it has advanced to a mass consumption level. This could add an interesting element to all games certainly, but games like Brain Age come immediately to mind.

Re:Nintendo (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691511)

Damn. It's already trickier to hold the Wiimote exactly on target for multiple aimed shots (as opposed to analogs, where the initial aiming is more difficult, but keeping the target steady is effortless). Imagine if you also have to do calculus problems in your head to fire...

Re:Nintendo (2, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693995)

Imagine if you also have to do calculus problems in your head to fire...

The cheat code replaces the function you have to integrate with e^x.

Re:Nintendo (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691569)

I had picked up a game back in the 90's that was based on this. I think it was from a company called "The other 90% technologies" or something like that. It had a sensor that you hooked up to a finger, and you could control a downhill skier. You had to "think hard right", and "relax left".

Re:Nintendo (1)

Happler (895924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692877)

That is like the anti-NASCAR driver toy. Maybe you can use that old toy to help recovering NASCAR fans.

Noooooooo! (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691403)

I think the next generation proved conclusively that Toys that use brainwaves are bad for independant thought.

Anyone have a spare android sitting around? We might need it.

Re:Noooooooo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27691519)

Speaking of Next Gen, when will we see this on this particular toy?

Not thought-controlled (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691419)

While this is cool and all, it kinda feels like cheating. How far are we from a device that can really respond to what you are thinking as opposed to measuring the amount of activity in your brain. Speaking as a programmer ignorant in neuroscience, seems like there is a long chain of events leading up to, say, pressing the Left button on a video game controller. First, the brain receives and processes the input from eyes and ears, then there must be some pretty complicated logic to decide that the right thing to do next is to turn left, then it needs to decide how to go about it (tapping your foot isn't going to do it, a particular finger has to press a particular button), then it needs to send signals to the specific arm and hand muscles to expand and contract in just the right ways so that the end result is pressing the button. I want a toy that can replace this last step and press the button for me in a fraction of time that it takes my fingers to act on my brain's instructions. All this, just so I can kick ass in Pacman

Lead up to another bailout? (1)

crkpot (915189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691467)

Just curious if this will eventually lead to prostitutes asking for a bailout due to lost business? Worth a thought. ... ;)

Toys Control What? (1)

nickdc (1444247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691515)

I read "Toys Control Your Brain" Look they've already started controlling my brain by hiding words from me! Worst invention ever!

Mind controled pong (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691559)

Almost 20 years ago my brother and I played pong on an old system with not-quite mind control. But to others it looked like mind control.

The controllers were lost, so we just used bare wires poked into the ports. One wire in each hand. The tiniest movement would dramatically alter resistance, so we had to remain almost motionless. Not even talking. Even blinking at the wrong time could lose you a point. We got pretty good at playing, but it was strangely exhausting.

Re:Mind controled pong (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27693083)

The Atari Mind controller only measured how much you furrowed your brow. In result, it gave the impression that deep concentration had an effect on the game. In reality, it gave most people headaches. :-P

The Dark Thoughts (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27691921)

A thought occurred to me, and I do not like it very much.

What this does, essentially, is take very low level electrical impulses produced by the brain and amplify/convert them into something an external processor can use, for whatever reason.

But what OTHER uses might be obtained? Can other devices use the data? How is it transmitted? Is the data encrypted? Is it secure?

Maybe you can see where I'm going with this...maybe not, but it certainly put a new twist on the possible functions of my trusty tinfoil hat.

kewl.. (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692019)

I would think devices like these will help a lot of people to focus better and improve their concentration. With all the sensory overload and multitasking thrust on us these days, I think that's probably a good thing. The future applications are very promising, if not revolutionary.
I saw an article on these gadgets about a month ago, I'm dying to try one or two out. I just wish the Neuroksy/Uncle Milton's Force Trainer gadget didn't have all those dorky Jedi sounds to distract you -hopefully you can turn them off. (The TFA didn't describe them in detail but other review sites have)

They'll be over every coder's cubicle... (1)

DoctorFrog (556179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27700123)

That way project management can finally tell who's concentrating and how hard, just by looking at how high the ping-pong balls are floating.

A bit out of date and simplistic article ... (1)

gnesterenko (1457631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692107)

Levitating a ball by concentrating? This article is a bit behind. Please refer to: http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/ocz_peripherals/nia-neural_impulse_actuator [ocztechnology.com] And for an earlier poster, no these things will never work straight out the box (not for years anyway), because just like teaching your brain to control your muscles, teaching your brain to control the computer is also a long learning process. It requires mental states and processes that, in some cases, are completely foreign to our brains. Prothetics are a little different because the brain already knows how to control an arm, so by teaching the computer exactly what signal to expect for any given motion, when you get into things like controling additional "appendages" beyond your regular biological nerves, you are, in effect, teaching your brain to use a whole brand new appandage. Now, some of these are very simple - such as the levitating ball if you concentrate trick. It will simply read the brain-wave intensity and if strong enough, the ball will rise. But when you start getting into things even as simple as the OCZ NIA above, where only 3 different brain-waves or "fingers" they call them are picked up by the device, the task for your brain is signifiantly increased. Its never as easy as just WANTing to move forward - the brain wave associated with controling the device has nothing to do with your desire to move forward - at least not right away. Only with long long practice and calibration does your brain adapt and learn and able to actually control a device. Its almost impossible to explain in words the state of mind required for something like this to work. The closest I can come is - for those who have ever practiced mediation or a martial art - the empty zen state one can sometimes achieve with these practices. Thinking nothing, blank. You then throw yourself into the game and watch as your character moves around completely randomly, or so it would seem at first. After a few hours, you begin to see that the motion isn't entirely random. And after many many more hours the subconsious connection between a certain state of mind and the resulting action on the computer screen begins to solidify. You practice long enough, and controling the machine WILL be as easy as walking or lifting your arm - you never even have to think about it - just WANT to do it. "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."

I'm sorry but somebody had to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27692189)

In Soviet Russia... Toy control YOU!

Prepare for . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27692391)

Unforeseen Consequences.

Also, kind of old news, but still pretty interesting read. It's nice to see it applied to the physical realm.

This kind of device would be an interesting controller for a system like, say, the Wii. I kind of wonder how calibration would work, though. Calibrating movement: "Think about walking in the direction that pops up on the screen. When you are done, think 'done!'"

FAIL (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692555)

Stupid headline.

Try and control a toy without your brain.

Therefore you control ALL toys with your brain.

Making article quite lame.

New Title Submission: "Look Ma! No Hands!"

End Transmission.

Re:FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27693023)

Try being a pedantic jackass without a brain.

Oh. I guess you can, after all.

Emotiv Epoc (2, Interesting)

jac515 (1368285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27692839)

Disclosure: I am in no way associated with Emotiv

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the upcoming Emotiv EPOC:
http://emotiv.com/corporate/2_0/2_2.htm [emotiv.com] .
This is a sophisticated interface which reads both facial expressions and EEG waves. It enables simple control by thought and is able to measure the intensity of three emotions (boredom, arousal, and frustration I think). It looks amazing. It seems possible that this device could have therapeutic use, or could be used as an aid in, say, meditation. It would also be fun to do experiments on yourself (and if you are an academic on a larger sample) such as watching the emotion readings when viewing pornography or masturbating or playing video games etc.

Re:Emotiv Epoc (1)

GrimWanderer (1531325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27791685)

The Emotiv Epoc is skating close to vaporware. It was supposed to be out last year but was postponed, there is no current release date, and their site has barely been updated since I first stumbled on it months ago. I think the Emotiv sounds great... if it makes it out of the lab, I am dying to get my hand on one. But they need to start talking.

Open Source Brainwave Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27695287)

http://entrainer.sourceforge.net

Looks like the next release will have support for the OCZ NIA. Interesting stuff...

Control minds with your toy (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27695393)

A direct neural interface to post on Twitter 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 [today.com] . The penis is an organ used by male humans primarily for thinking and making important decisions. It is also used as an outlet for unwanted poisonous bodily excreta, such as sperm.

The messages — or "twats" — cover the full gamut of human experience and emotion 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 "WOKE UP DEAD PIG SHAT IN SKULL OH DEAR GOD 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."

Standing Wager..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27696025)

I put $10 on the Porn Industry advancing uses faster than anybody else.

Any takers?

Third time I've seen this... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27698573)

This is the third release of a "brain-controlled game" type setup I've seen, all involving putting a sensor on the forehead.

          Mid 1980s. Atari planned to release a whole series of sensors (temperature, voltage, etc.) and a head-band sensor thingy, with software to go with it. The plan was to go in through the joystick port, which each had a voltage sensor (0 to 5 volts would read as 0 through 255). I think Atari hit hard times before they were going to release this, and so didn't.

          The other I've seen is from sometime in the early 1990s... my grandparents picked up several at some flea market. The company that developed this one basically wrote demo games (DOS only) for it right about when Win95 came out. And then didn't port any API for Windows. I can't remember what it's called but last I saw some company (not the original one) STILL had a stock of these they were trying to sell.

A fun toy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27699023)

...but honestly not that much more. If this is mythical, if this is a transcendence threshold for mind over matter, surely everything we already have by means of EEG was more than this since it was discovered.

Remember that Asimo that Honda could move by thought? Remember HAL, which could detect the firing of nerves that take care of moving your arms and legs? Using a cheap version of the tech (and by the price tag it seems the sensors used in HAL aren't that costly) to power a toy won't be impressive until such a point where it doesn't require electricity to operate.

Old news (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27699631)

A toy that is controlled directly by your brain? Has been around for thousands if not millions of years, and it should be particularly well-known to young, male readers of Slashdot, I suspect. The ultimate in wearable technology, with variable size and fits comfortably into either hand.

Call we call this Psionics? (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27700561)

Avionics are electronics relating to flight, maybe we can call mind/machine interface psionics. Not to be confused with D&D psionics which is a misnomer for psychogenics.

It's that or Robotechnology/protoculture.

There are still others on the market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27700681)

Don't forget the Neural Impulse Actuator from OCZ [ocztechnology.com] .

Let me introduce you to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27711095)

left hand, meet right hand!

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