Of all the technologies that may one day change the world as we know it there are several contenders. Energy production could one day become an afterthought as we increase electricity production with the help of devices like those proposed by Ross and Focardi. Hover vehicles could one day soar through the air like the hovercycle currently entering a testing phase by Australian inventor Chris Malloy. Even 3D printing could change how we look at products and make them more open source. But few could have quite the same impact on some peoples’ lives as brainwave interfacing technology – devices that read our brainwaves and respond accordingly.
Since the dawn of mankind there has been only one way of using tools – through manual dexterity. Our hands evolved opposable thumbs and an enhanced frontal lobe and the world was never the same. Thousands of years passed, and tools eventually began responding to verbal communication (although not as much as we’d like to think) and our feet (in inventions like bicycles). But the latest trend in technological input is one that could respond not only to the physical and social aspects of communication and interfacing, but the mental ones as well.
Brainwave reading devices have entered the recreational field in the form of toys and research aids. They respond to the mental impulses of the user to alter the speed of a fan or the color of lights, or the simple actions on a computer screen. In its earliest incarnation a surprising amount of research has come from an unlikely source. No longer confined to the laboratories of universities, organizations, and hospitals, EEG hardware is being used increasingly by home inventors looking to unlock the secrets of the mind and control all they see with the power of thought.
How might this change the world as we see it? Recently at a demonstration, Neurosky was interviewed with how brainwave monitoring software might be one day soon used to help students in school. But even more than that, some companies are looking at ways to cross the barrier between the brain and devices around them. One day you may be able to associate a certain fluctuation in brain activity with the identity of a person in a very similar way to how sounds can be put together to form words.
And as we become more trained with brainwave communication, the actual way we communicate can become more finely tuned. In fact, anything that can be done with conventional communication may be accessible to anyone who can think. And if we can communicate even while sleeping, what will this unlock not only for those suffering from “locked in syndrome” such as coma patients, but everyone else as well? What if we could continue to communicate even while dreaming?