iBrain can ‘read your mind’; enlists Stephen Hawking
"This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time," said the project's leader, Phillip Low.
iBrain is no different than Braintracks, which Hawking already uses. It reads electrical impulses, over the skin, that result from brain activity. iBrain's inventor talks about asking Hawking to think hard about things. But the website reveals it's another EEG reader.
Braintracks also reads electrical impulses from muscle movement in the face and eyes. That's much more user controllable. Unfortunately for Hawking he is losing control even over his face muscles.
It doesn't reveal thoughts. The headband includes electrodes. But good electrodes don't need sandy crap or gel for most people. Hawking usually needs some gel because he doesn't sweat very much.
It can be used to interpret thoughts and reactions. For example, if someone is excited they may produce more beta waves, which an EEG can read. With the proper base lining, such a device could reveal someone's general mood, and even some thoughts in a general way.
The problem is one signal interferes with another. So unless the person is cooperating and knows how to remain calm for a clean reading, it's not accurate.
The government was interested in Brainfingers (not Braintracks, I had the name wrong) because of the face muscle reads. An eye twitch was faster than a thumb flick, in their trials, for pressing a switch. The problem is Brainfingers, and EEG's in general, produce false readings.
We converted Brainfingers for use with video games. In our tests it had one specific advantage. It was about 10-20% faster (compared to a button press on a mouse or controller). But the guy who created it made a back door deal with some computer peripheral company. They marketed it incorrectly, as a replacement controller. It wasn't. It was marvelous in addition to a controller or mouse.
I went around the country demoing it to hard core video gamers. They loved it. I demoed it at various video game conventions by playing pong without a controller in my hand.
Dr. Andrew Junker, who created Brainfingers, has also used it to prove people who were diagnosed as in a vegetative state did have conscious thoughts. They could respond to requests and even learn to spell their name using the various brain signals it reads as electrical impulses.
There are similar devices that actually read thoughts. But they involve attaching sensors directly to the brain. That's not too practical in every day use, even for people like Dr. Hawking.