The Future of The Internet:  Mind to Mind Communication?

The Future of The Internet: Mind to Mind Communication?

Not long ago we gave you a look at a product manufactured by OCZ that made use of brainwaves as a futuristic but in-the-here-and-now game controller.  Dubbed the NIA, for Neural Impulse Actuator, instead of buttons and joysticks, this device gave user the ability to control in-game movement with their mind.  At the time, it sounded almost a little crazy but it worked, at least in novel sort of way, perhaps for some freaky party fun.  In reality, for us, the product was more of an under-pinning that if mankind can dream it up, for the most part anything can be built.  Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality, as they say.


Image courtesy, Southampton University
And so say the rather brainy folks at the University of Southampton as well.  They've taken the concept of brain power technology and applied it to communication - as in brain-to-brain direct.  Talk about low latency.  Well actually there is some latency involved, at least for now.  Southampton University's Dr. Christopher James (Yes, he's so dang smart he's one of those double first name guys...) has successfully demonstrated a direct person to person transmission of information without the use of any interface device but instead with an EEG (Electroencephalography or electricity across the scalp) amplifier and some signaling, in binary believe it or not, between the individuals involved in the experiment.  The prof of concept Dr. James put forth, has some striking similarities to the OCZ NIA product in that it uses EEG waves as well, however instead of a controller system, the folks of Southampton U experiment applied a communication medium to the equation. 

Their report goes on to offer: "While attached to an EEG amplifier, the first person would generate and transmit a series of binary digits, imagining moving their left arm for zero and their right arm for one. The second person was also attached to an EEG amplifier and their PC would pick up the stream of binary digits and flash an LED lamp at two different frequencies, one for zero and the other one for one. The pattern of the flashing LEDS is too subtle to be picked by the second person, but it is picked up by electrodes measuring the visual cortex of the recipient... The encoded information is then extracted from the brain activity of the second user and the PC can decipher whether a zero or a one was transmitted. This shows true brain-to-brain activity."

Here's a video demo of the experiment in action...



Dubbed BCI or Brain Computer Interface, the interface allows for B2B, or brain to brain communication, over the internet.  We think the good folks at Southampton U should get together with the team at OCZ and work on productizing something.  It might not be ready for prime time yet though.  At this point the setup is only able to communicate one digit every three to four seconds.  Hey, you've got to start somewhere.  Remember that 14.4K modem?
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This is not "brain-to-brain communication". This is brain-to-LED-to-eye-to-brain-to-sensor-to-screen-back-to-eye-to-brain communication.

This experiment replaces your voice with an LED and the other persons ears with their eyes (i.e. It still requires physical senses) - except worse: The recipient doesn't even get the message directly, they have to have a sensor read their visual cortex and send the output to a computer screen for them to re-read.

If, like this experiment, we want to discount all human senses and intermediate media used, you could say that talking to someone is a more direct form of brain-to-brain communication.

My point is that true brain-to-brain communication shouldn't need sensory input via one of the existing five senses, and should be able to be directly understood without an outside decoder.  You could call this brain-to-output_device-to-eye-to-brain transmission.

Also, you should be able to use it to scan people until their heads explode.

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No thanks on brain-to-brain communications for me. Now, where is my tin-foil hat, and get those kids off my lawn!

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Not true brain to brain transmission. Until the second person can decipher the original transmitted thought, all this is doing is using two brains as a very inefficient way of conveying data.

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This is an attempt at too much control, except in the case of paraplegic patients.

My sister would freak out if she saw this story, (the one who thinks that every computer should be powered by a bicycle and you'd have to pedal fast to surf the web)

I think I'll show it to her and watch her turn colors,.......

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So if you're running this system and you get the Blue Screen of Death, you...?

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witness the birth of skynet :)

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