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24 June 2015

Mind Control Moves Closer  

Students of linguistics have long recognised that language is a relatively crude tool for transmitting ideas, while scientists search for ways to make communication more efficient. Could the direct transmission of information by the brain be the answer?

In June 2013, researchers at the University of Washington confirmed the actual possibility of this type of communication. Barely two years later, mind control technology is developing rapidly.

An early initiative was the MindRDR app unveiled in 2014 by This Place, a London-based user experience company. It is designed to enable Google Glass wearers to perform functions such as taking photos and uploading them to the internet just by thinking about it.

The app uses an electroencephalography headband to measure electrical activity in the brain and convert these signals into instructions for Glass, although it is limited to indicating ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

The BBC is now experimenting with cutting-edge technology that allows people to turn on its on-demand service iPlayer and select a desired programme using a prototype headset that reads brainwaves through two sensors, one that rests on the forehead, the other attached by a clip to the ear.

Although these early initiatives are limited to relatively simple functions, scientists believe that mind control technology could ultimately benefit individuals suffering from medical conditions such as locked-in syndrome or paralysis.

Researchers also acknowledge that mainstream acceptance may take a long time. Today’s concerns over data privacy indicate the doubts people may harbour about accepting that their thought processes are measured and read by machines and then allowing this to be done. But the rapid advance of mind control technology suggests these issues will arise sooner rather than later.