A UT-Dallas Professor is Developing a Mind-Controlled Smart Phone

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Someday, technology will become so pervasive, such an ingrained part of existence, that it will erase the markers that once distinguished individual human beings and merge them into a single consciousness floating somewhere in the cloud. It's inevitable, really. Just a matter of when.

Working to usher in that era as soon as possible is Roozbeh Jafari, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. As the MIT Technology Review reports, he's teamed up with Samsung to develop the next generation of smartphone technology: mind control.

Jafari has basically been hooking test subjects up to brain wave-sensing electrodes and making them open apps, select a contact, power on or off, and perform other simple tasks on a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, with only their mind. EEG-monitoring devices calibrated to pick up on brain activity associated with repeated visual patterns, subjects were able to accurately make the desired selection 80 to 95 percent of the time.

Pretty cool, but that doesn't answer one lingering question: Why? Are touch screens not intuitive enough? Does moving one's thumbs require too much effort?

Partly, Jafari and Samsun hope to help disabled people connect to the world. But more simply, it's the next frontier.

"Several years ago, a small keypad was the only input modality to control the phone, but nowadays the user can use voice, touch, gesture, and eye movement to control and interact with mobile devices," Insoo Kim, Samsung's lead researcher, told the MIT Technology Review. "Adding more input modalities will provide us with more convenient and richer ways of interacting with mobile devices."

The technology is still in its infancy and won't be hitting the market in the immediate future. Speed and accuracy are still a problem, as is the unsightly wired-covered cap test subjects had to use. But all that can be improved with research. Jafari envisions that one day the EEG devices will be so small and portable that they can be worn comfortably on the head all day long. They should look a little something like this:

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7 comments
ChrisYu
ChrisYu

doesn't matter how unsightly the head gear is, if it's the latest thing the followers will gladly line up outside the Apple store on a blazing hot summer day to trade in the old technology six weeks after they invested in it.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

They've had these for years, just not compatible with a cellphone/tablet. And yes, the cap is unsightly but I believe they have other less-obnoxious looking devices. You might be able to have something permanent attached to your head, and that would be a small price to pay for a completely disabled person being able to communicate with the world.

Mark Oristano
Mark Oristano

This would be as opposed to all our smart phone-controlled minds.

Esteban Perez
Esteban Perez

I love how my UT Dallas owned workstation's security settings doesn't let me read the story.

Brandon Burns
Brandon Burns

better than your mind controlled by a smart phone

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