Emotiv Has Your Brain!

The year is 1999 and we’re driving through a blizzard to see a movie. The snow is about 10 inches on the road and everyone is going about 10mph. It’s slow, but we’re keeping ourselves busy.

I ask the passengers, since we’re all pretty computer literate, “What do you think the next evolution of computer I/O will be?” We chat for the next 20 minutes about the current state of I/O devices and where they can go and where it would be ‘cool’ if they went. The conversation swings from the ‘glove’ to the ubiquitous floating holo-monitor of sci-fi lore, the touch screen concept, the goggles… And then came the implants. All of us were ex-Cyberpunk players so we immediately knew the ramifications of such technology.

Although, nothing short of fantastic, hardware implants have been in the news over the last few year:

Slashdot: Hardware Implants Mimic Brain Cells
Wired: Vision Quest
ScienceDaily: Brain Implants May Help Stroke Patients

And considering the level of technological advancement from year to year… Well, you get the point.

So the question remains… What do you think the next evolution of computer I/O will be?

Well it’s 2008 and we’re all still reeling from the ‘glove’ and the ‘goggles’, the touch-screen monitor is fairly standard for buying tickets and checking out at Home Depot and implants, well… Implants are still a way’s away. However, there is some light at the end of that tunnel.

emotiv:EPOC ImageEmotiv Systems: http://www.emotiv.com/ 

Although they’ve been around for a while, I first saw their EPOC headset on an episode of  ‘Prototype: This’: on the Discovery channel.

In the show, the team used the EPOC headset to measure the drivers’ stress levels to engage or disengage their vehicle and thus disallowing a stressed out, pissed off driver from continuing. Pretty cool concept, but ridiculously over produced.

However the EPOC headset is what got me all excited.

The system basically works like this. The sensors on the headset read the brains electrical signals produces from a series of expressions and/or non-conscious emotions. Simple enough.

If you’ve ever had an EEG, (which I have) you’ll know that to enable proper conductivity between the sensors and the signals produced by the brain, the nurse usually douses (not literally of course) your skull in a conductive gel. Well not the EPOC headset. Their technology (called non-invasive electroencephalography) allows for a signal read without the conductive gel. That’s good news for the who have hair (:

So where does this take us? I mean, the EPOC headset isn’t a ‘new’ concept, it is however the only one out there positioning themselves to flood market. Does this mean your keyboard is becoming outmoded? Maybe your mouse…? Well, no.

Not yet anyways.

So far, the EPOC headset is poised to engage you in video games and that’s about it. But it’s not to much of stretch to assume that, once available, someone or some SourceForge groups will start building those hacks and add-ons to allow you to get more use from it than Emotiv Systems has time to test and implement.

Though they haven’t gone into full production mode, you can pre-order your EPOC headset for a relatively cheap $299 USD and be one of the first to start blinking, winking, smiling and screaming at your computer and actually have it react to you.


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