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Brain implants could control computers by 2020, Intel says

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Users will be able to control computers using only their brains thanks to chips embedded in them, Intel researchers said.

The end of the keyboard, mouse and button is near.

Users will be able to control computers using only their brains thanks to chips embedded in them, researchers said.

Scientists an Intel research lab in Pittsburgh, Pa. are working to read human brain waves to operate electronics using sensors implanted in people's brains, according to a Computerworld report.

The move could eventually lead to the ability to manipulate your computer, television and mobile phone without lifting a finger.

"We're trying to prove you can do interesting things with brain waves," Intel research scientist Dean Pomerleau told Computerworld. "Eventually people may be willing to be more committed ... to brain implants. Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts."

Intel researchers are teaming up with scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh to figure out how to decode human brain waves. The team is using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) machines to map brain patterns by monitoring blood flow to areas of the brain that results from thinking about certain things.

The brain exhibits response patterns for words and images. The researchers are attempting to build technology that can detect and interpret brain waves and, in turn, be used to manipulate an electronic device such as a computer.

For now, that technology is in the form of a headset. But a sensor meant to be implanted into the brain will soon replace it.

It's not the first time scientists have attempted to tap the brain for information -- two years ago, U.S. and Japanese scientists used a monkey brain to control a robot with the hope that advances would help paralyzed people walk again.

But deciphering the complexities of human brain waves is the biggest hurdle of all. It's a bit like digging around a 1-acre supercomputer with hundreds of thousands of processors and trying to figure out what it's doing at every turn.

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure