Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology is becoming available at a price suitable for mass consumer adoption, creating new possibilities for translating users’ cognitive activity directly into digital experiences. It is a form of interface which goes beyond physical keys, touchscreens and even gestures to enable experiences controlled purely by brain waves.
Companies such as Emotiv and and NeuroSky have developed systems which use wireless headsets to sense brain activity and translate that information into standard APIs for developers to create software. The technology has existed in the lab environment for many years, but it is now being delivered in commercial form, with headsets powered by NeuroSky starting at USD 99 and Emotiv at USD 299.
Creative applications are already emerging to take advantage of this technology, including some which enable users to categorise a collection of photos based on emotional response, digital synthesisers controlled by brain activity and artistic visualisations which respond to the electrical pulses of the user’s mind.
Others have focused on helping those with disabilities, including this system allowing users to select and call contacts using brain activity:
1 of the 6 Pathways at the next MEX event (London, 4th/5th May 2011) is entitled ‘Inspire new forms of creative expression through mobile devices’. It will explore how technologies already embedded in mobile devices are being subverted to create new user experiences dedicated to artistic expression, from tablets employed as canvases for digital paint to stop motion animation enabled by improving phone camera technology. The Pathway will also examine future possibilities, such as brain computer interface.
The objective is to create new ideas for how the industry can evolve the user experience of mobile devices to tap into customers’ desire to create as well as consume content.
See also a previous MEX essay on this subject from July 2006, entitled: ‘Human integration and the death of the device.