By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Technology
A new computer interface allows users to type out messages using only their mind.
A new computer interface allows users to type out messages using only their mind, although you probably shouldn't think about ditching your keyboard just yet.
IntendiX, a machine-brain interfacing technology developed by Austrian-based Guger Technologies, enables users to compose messages by using their eyes to select characters on a virtual keyboard. But take note that it took novices around 40 seconds to correctly type out each character -- which feels excruciatingly slow compared to doing typing by hand.
However, the interface could be useful for disabled users who are unable to type using conventional methods. The messages can then be communicated audibly using text to speech software a la world famous physicist Stephen Hawking. The messages can also be sent as an email or text message. For social networking addicts, there's even a Twitter interface.
The interface is based on electroencephalograph or EEG technology that can decode the intentions behind specific brainwave patterns. Interfacing with the computer involves wearing a tight-fitting skull cap fitted with electrodes that, in conjunction with a brainwave amplifier, detects and transmits brain activity to a Windows application for analysis. A major advantage of the system is that while EEG systems typically require hours of training to learn and correctly interpret a user's brainwave patterns, intendiX can get it done in about five to 10 minutes.
The system works by keying in on a brainwave pattern known as P300 ERP or event-related potential, a reaction that occurs right after being exposed to certain visual signals such as the instance of brake lights suddenly coming on. To type out a message, users stare at a chosen character as columns are sequentially flashed. The software determines which column the chosen character is located by watching for an occurrence of that brainwave pattern, which should happen the moment that column is flashed. Then it flashes each of the rows until it detects a similar response. It then types the character located at the intersection of the row and column detected, a process similar to cross-indexing.
The Guger Technologies research team is still working on ways to improve the technology, such as speeding up the response time. The company says that they've sped up the typing to a rate to about a character a second. Here's a video of the researchers demonstrating how the technology works at CeBIT.
Photo: Guger Technologies
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Mar 3, 2011
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This will never work because it is backwards thinking. We would not live long enough to write an email this way. The brain works by recognizing patterns first, then it reacts, and reacts, honing itself along the way using either sight, sound, feel, smell, taste, or a combination of each sense until it reaches the desired final result.
I wondered how this machine always knew when I was a hurry. How else would it always hit a go-slow moment when I needed a go-fast moment? Answer me that! OK, taking a nap now.
I don't see how that differs much from any of the eye-gaze systems that have already been perfected and work quite nicely. If you have to look at something to make it type, then use those. Now, if it could interpret entire words and thoughts, that might be another thing.
The first thing this will be used for is to extract information from terrorists etc. OK. The next thing this will be used for is to extract information from ordinary citizens for extorsion by criminals. NOT OK. Then they get your passwords, pincodes and other personal security information, and you will think that "1984" was a naive fairytale. It may take 40 seconds to write a character today, 5 seconds for the next interfaceversion, and 2.26 microseconds for the third, which will also work on drugged subjects. The only defence may be LSD and similar brainscrambling drugs. Goodbye humanity....