Researchers have long been developing brain-computer interfacing (BCI) systems to enhance the quality of life for paralyzed or disabled people, enabling them to control gadgets such as computers and wheelchairs using only their minds. But the devices haven’t allowed humans to communicate with each other without speaking—until now.
Christopher James of the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research has devised a way to achieve brain-to-brain communication using BCI technology—effectively allowing a person to send his or her thoughts/brainwaves through the Internet.
The process involves two people who are attached to an EEG amplifier, two computers, an Internet connection, and one LED lamp. In the test, the first subject was asked to transfer his thoughts through a computer. The thoughts were hardly personal —the subject was simply asked to move his arm, meaning he had to think “move my arm.” His thoughts were translated into computer language consisting of a series of binary digits, zeros and ones. For example, when he raised his right arm, the computer read a one, and when he raised his left arm, the computer read a zero.
When the computer on the receiving end picked up the signals sent via the ‘net, the second subject saw flashing LED lights. Through these light patterns, the thoughts of the first person were transferred. To be sure the second party understood what was happening, James used a computer to confirm that the second person’s brain activity was creating the same ones and zeros. The digits matched, showing that the communication of the thoughts were indeed properly conveyed.
Still curious about the experiment? Check out this video for more info.
Image: flickr/ Zeno