Fancy making a call on your cell phone without having to use your hands? Soon you might be able to do so just by thinking about it, thanks to a new technological system being developed in San Diego. Tzyy-Ping Jung, PhD, a neuroscience researcher at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of San Diego, and his colleagues have come up with a system which allows users wearing a wireless headband or hat fitted with electrodes that reads brain activity to operate a cell phone, just by thinking about what phone numbers they want to call.
“It’s trying to provide a direct pathway to bypass motor control to command exterior devices,” says Jung. The new cell phone technology is one of a number of projects than go under the heading of BCI (Brain Computer Interface), an increasingly exciting and rapidly developing scientific field to allow devices such as computers and artificial limbs to be controlled simply by a person’s mind, technology that could prove to be particularly beneficial for quadriplegics or other people with serious physical disabilities.
Jung notes that unlike some BCI programs, his is entirely wireless, meaning that it is both far quicker and easier to use. “In less than a minute you’re connected and you can do a lot, like experiments, or you can control things, or do video games with just your brain activity,” he comments.
The new technology could be commercially available within the next few years.