In my last post I talked about controlling video games with your brainwaves and the new field of Brain Computer Interfaces, ‘BCIs’. But why not run the process in reverse and have the computer modulate your brain waves?
Imagine hooking up to Call of Duty and having the game stimulate the pain centers when you get shot, for example. Not my favorite idea as I’m not very good at that game – I’d probably prefer to end a long day at the office by plugging in to a meditation machine and stimulating my calming centers.
These ideas are now made possible and companies exist which are engaged in bringing them to life – though, for ethical reasons, no one has yet proposed targeting the pain centers!
As is often the case, the open source community was first to experiment with these brain induction technologies – and there are websites out there explaining how to wire your brain up to a 9-volt battery and induce currents within it. I’ll not post the links and I’d advise against trying them unless you have a degree in electronics because there’s a risk you’ll end up with second-degree burns – but the basic technology appears perfectly safe. You can already buy a device in the US called foc.us, which claims to improve your gaming performance.
The next wave of startups has put a lot of research behind their products and at the Conciousness Conference I caught up with Jamie Tyler, CSO of Thync. I tried the Thync prototype out on Dr. Gino Yu, Associate Professor and Director of Digital Entertainment and Game Development at the school of Design, Hong Kong – a man with a very cool job title. The device works by allowing users to bias their brainwaves towards desireable mental states. We set out to calm down an agitated Dr. Yu.
It turns out, Dr. Yu doesn’t need a stressful day to get agitated – he just needs someone to talk to him about one of his passions. The Thync device is held in place with a fetching head band – not part of his usual wardrobe – and controlled with an app. You can see the effect for yourself in the pictures below.
The commercial launch of the Thync device is slated for early 2015, subject to all the appropriate safety testing and approvals.