While most have yet to hear about a powerful next-generation computer interface called the "Brain Computer Interface" or BCI, it's one that's getting more attention from gaming companies like Secret Exit and Sony who are now actively researching and developing such an interface for current and future gaming. While it`s true that the full potential of this interface is a decade or more away, one famous pioneer in this field foresees a coming Glass war between Apple, Google and others on this very front. Today`s report briefly covers one of the pioneering companies in this field who have just released their latest product called the "Muse." It`s one of the first products that have pushed the BCI into real world games like Zen Bound 2 for Apple`s iPad. While we can't consider this product a Killer App at this point in time for the BCI, it's likely the first of many products to come to market that will pave the way for a big breakthrough in the future. And considering that a luminary in this field is forecasting a war between Apple and Google on this front via Glass-based wearable computers, we thought it was time to bring this technology back into the spotlight once again.
Video: Zen Bound 2 for the iPad using a Brain Computer Interface
InteraXon, leaders in thought controlled experiences, have connected brainwaves to the iPad in a new application that puts BCI technology in the palm of your hand. InteraXon has partnered with Secret Exit, adding a new thought-controlled element to the award winning ZenBound 2.
Creator of Minority Report Movie Interfaces Loves InteraXon's Work
John Underkoffler, Chief Scientist at Oblong Industries who inspired and made the user interfaces in the film the Minority Report, stated in InteraXon's introductory video noted below that "as one who is deeply interested in cognitive science, I want to start writing apps right away that try to correlate what I can perceive as my internal state. I think that there's stuff to be discovered there." We originally covered Underkoffler's work back in June 2010.
Another luminary who comments in InteraXon's video shown below is none other than Canadian Steve Mann, forefather of wearable computing. MIT's Nicholas Negroponte said of Mann: "he brought the seed that founded the Wearable Computing group in the Media Lab."
For the record, Mann is one who helped InteraXon get off the ground and is currently experimenting with thought-controlled computing. Mann stated that he's also developing a technology that would allow blind people to see. Wikipedia covers this aspect of brain computing interfaces under "Invasive BCI's."
In a recent New York Times report about brain-computer-interfaces and wearable computing, Steve Mann was asked the question: "Will all computer companies make a version of glass?
Mann replied: "Yes. There will be Apple Glass, and Google Glass, and RIM Glass. These companies are all working on glass. I think everyone is going to be making glass. I think we're also going to have a glass war instead of a smartphone war." Products like Glass will introduce simplistic elements of the brain-computer interface.
Introducing Muse: The Brainwave Sensing Headband
Last week, Ariel Garten, Founder and CEO of InteraXon, introduced their new product called Muse: The brainwave sensing headband that is changing the way the world thinks. Here's their video message.
Muse uses sensors to pick up the tiny electrical outputs generated by your brain's activity. As you shift between states like concentration and relaxation, Muse's algorithms detect the subtle changes in your brain and show you those changes in real time, just like a heart rate monitor can provide information about your physical activity.
These signals can be used in a number of ways. InteraXon is looking to use these brainwaves to interact with devices in the real world--devices that respond to your thoughts like turning off your smart phone when you are asleep or turning off the TV. But just as important is how seeing your brainwaves can help you learn more about yourself and improve yourself while strengthening your brain.
Muse sits across your forehead like a headband, and rests behind your ears like a pair of glasses. When properly worn, the EEG (electroencephalography) sensors on the front of the band make contact on your forehead, and the reference sensors on the arms rest on the backs of your ears. Muse connects wirelessly to your devices via Bluetooth. Once Muse is on, you'll hardly notice it at all.
About the Apps Shown Above: 1. This illustration of a focus training app shows how brainwave data can help you track your progress over time; 2. A personal tracking app, like the one in this concept illustration could let you track your brainstate throughout the day.
Another company that is advancing the brain computer interface is Emotiv Systems. Their TED presentation, as noted below, was well received. It`s here where you could actually see the technology in action. It`s where you could see how this technology could be integrated into future gaming applications from Sony and others.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, the Brain Computer Interface is in its infancy just as true multitouch technology was when it was first developed in a Toronto lab back in 1982. Twenty-five years later, multi-touch came storming into the market thanks to Apple's iPhone. Think of modern gaming's humble beginning with Pong in comparison to where it is today in glorious 3D. Great technologies take time to develop and there's a thankless path until they're the "next great thing."
Companies like Emotiv and InteraXon appear to be at a juncture where the BCI meets with wearable computing. In the future, we'll be able to simply gaze at an email in our Glass product and it will open or close by using simple mind controls and gazing techniques. One of the pioneers in this field firmly believes that forms of this technology via wearable computers will actually kick-start another warfront between Apple and Google. What does he know and isn't saying?
Today we're seeing the technology ever so slowly working into games and into simple iApps. While it's a little gimmicky today, it'll gradually develop into "just another" valued future interface. It holds so much promise on so many levels. MIT and other Universities are currently working with this neuroscience and even DARPA have worked on projects using this future interface.
On a simpler note, the founders of InteraXon appear to be big Apple fans, as you could see Macs, the iPhone and iPad in in their promo videos and they even invited The Woz to view it back in 2012. Today, Apple is focused on all-things Multi-Touch and is working around the clock to advance Siri, Apple's voice interactive interface, to take on more tasks every year. While mind control probably isn't a priority at Apple today, we could never say never with Apple who is always looking for the next great thing.
Knowing that Apple has several wearable computer patents on hand tells us at the very least that they have a minimum of one active research team keeping an eye on these developments. And with Steve Mann, a pioneer in this neuroscience, practically forecasting a near-future Glass warfront on the horizon between Apple and Google, we thought it was time to bring this new brain computing interface into the spotlight once again, on Sunday, October, 28, 2012.