Monday, August 9, 2010
The UI for which You Will Shave Your Head
While it evokes images of Star Trek Borgs and jacked-in softies from William Gibson's matrix stories, a new "brain-reading" headset may just change the way we work with computers. The tagline for the Emotiv EPOC brain-computer interface is "you think, therefore, you can."
Because each brain is different, Emotiv EPOC comes with software for calibrating each individual's thoughts. You select a mental activity (e.g., pull, push, go left, go right, or disappear) and think about doing it for a few seconds while the application listens in on your brain's neural snaps, crackles, and pops. Using EEG signals from the headset, the software records your brain-wave patterns.
When you use other software, the headset watchs your EEG for similar activities, decides on your mental objective, and passes that command to your computer application ("Hey, WoW! The gamer is thinking about moving to the right!").
In addition to capturing brainwaves, the headset watches for head tilting and facial movements that can be passed along as commands to an application. One practical example of use would be for an individual in a wheelchair who is unable to use a joystick to control movement. Instead, he or she can command the wheelchair to go left, right, straight, or back mentally and/or through head and facial movements.
While the technology's capabilities seem out of this world, its price is realistic -- just $299 for the headset and then some extra expenses for software that knows what to do with your brainwaves. For developers and researchers, Emotiv offers a variety of software options, from a "lite" SDK for free download, all the way up to an "enterprise plus" development license for $7500.
You can watch a recorded live demonstration of the headset at the TED website.
If this really takes off, be prepared to see technology innovators with unique haircuts!
During twenty years of technical consulting, I have been blessed to work with smart people from some of the world's most respected organizations, including: FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.
I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders, the vendor of WebFOCUS BI and iWay enterprise integration products, and for over a dozen years served in branch leadership roles. For several years, I also led technical teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the custom software services arm of Xerox.
Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting.