Move Over Butt-Dialing, Here Comes Brain-Phoning: IBM and Xerox Say Brain-Controlled Apps Are Next

“Researchers from the two tech giants claim new headsets and more powerful phones are paving the way for brain-controlled smartphone apps.” That’s the opening of a recent story from ZDNet that details the idea that maybe … not today, but someday soon … you could call a friend using merely the power of thought. “Across …   Read More

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Move Over Butt-Dialing, Here Comes Brain-Phoning IBM and Xerox Say Brain-Controlled Apps Are Next“Researchers from the two tech giants claim new headsets and more powerful phones are paving the way for brain-controlled smartphone apps.”

That’s the opening of a recent story from ZDNet that details the idea that maybe … not today, but someday soon … you could call a friend using merely the power of thought.

“Across the world researchers are developing smartphone apps that are controlled using brainwaves, according to an IBM and Xerox paper summarizing the state-of-the-art in Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI),” reports ZDNet. “Applications include brain-driven software for dialling numbers, as well as for messaging and calling contacts.”

In other words, the electrical charges in your brain could activate things in the real world.

“Rather than relying on a touchscreen tap to trigger an action, such software listens for specific patterns of brain activity. These peaks in electrical activity in the brain, known as P300 signals, are detected by a Electroencephalogram (EEG) that is worn on the user’s head.”

What researchers are working on now is accuracy.

The IBM and Xerox paper highlights something called the “Neurophone,” a brain-controlled system developed at Cornell University that allows users to call contacts using an Emotiv headset and an iPhone.

“Neurophone works by flashing images of each of the user’s contacts in turn, detecting the P300 signal when the desired contact flashes and then making the call,” explains ZDNet. “The system’s ability to detect the correct contact is described as promising but less reliable than a wink-controlled interface for the device — which managed 92 to 95 percent accuracy.”

In short, developments in the fields of computational neurology, signal processing, and machine learning — mixed with the increasing computational power of mobile devices could pave the way for development of more BCI-based mobile applications for ordinary users.

We’ve come a long way, baby … or at least, from butt-dialing to brain-phoning.

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