Brain reading gadgets get closer after researchers pack a BMI interface into a pair of glasses

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

As technology gets better, cheaper, and smaller, researchers are now getting to the point where they can create brain reading gadgets.

 

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As technology continues to get smaller and more powerful recently I wrote about a new small stick on Smart Tattoo that can read your mind – something that ultimately, one day, could replace the need for us to use those blue skull caps to read human brain waves. As so called mind reading technology continues to get smaller though at some point it’s inevitable that it’s going to be embedded into the smart devices and gadgets around us which will give new meaning to everything from the term telepathic warfare all the ay through to mind games. Now, in what seems to be the first example of such a move, I’ve just spotted the tech being embedded into a pair of glasses, and that opens the door to creating gadgets that read our minds so you can reply to your WhatsApp messages with just a mere thought, and stream your thoughts to Youtube. And a lot more, and as for the privacy implications? Well, let’s just roll over laughing about what the big tech companies will make out of this then cry …

 

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We’ve already seen electronic glasses that watch the wearer’s diet and automatically change focus, among other things, and now an experimental pair of new E-Glasses can monitor the wearer’s mental health, let them control games with their eyes, and, most importantly, turn into sunglasses when needed.

 

The mind reading glasses. Courtesy: KU-KIST.

 

The prototype eyewear was developed by a team led by Assoc. Prof. Suk-Won Hwang, from Korea University’s KU-KIST Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology in South Korea.

Featuring a 3D printed frame, the “E-Glasses” incorporate flexible electrodes located near the wearer’s ears and eyes. These sensors serve as an ElectroEncephalogram (EEG), monitoring electrical activity in the brain, while the latter function as an ElectroOculogram (EOG), which tracks eye movements. Both types of data are wirelessly transmitted from the glasses for processing.

 

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In lab tests, the EEG was successfully used to record volunteers’ alpha brainwave rhythms which could in turn be used to monitor their health. The EOG data, on the other hand, allowed participants to play a brick-stacking video game simply by moving their eyes. Such a feature might conceivably find use in hands free control of computers, or in assistive technologies designed for the physically challenged, for example for people who have locked in syndrome or are paralysed.

The E-Glasses also have a UV light sensor on the side of one arm, which measures the intensity of incoming UV rays. When the sunlight gets bright enough, that sensor triggers a UV blocking gel inside the lenses to get darker – thus temporarily turning the glasses into sunglasses.

 

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Finally, and as if all this isn’t enough, they also have an accelerometer in the same arm as the light sensor that’s able to track the user’s posture and gait, and detect when they fall down. This means that the glasses could be used in Virtual Reality (VR) systems, or to monitor elderly people, and automatically send alerts if mishaps are detected.

The technology is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: American Chemical Society

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