Listening in on the brain
Last spring, Tzyy-Ping Jung was all over the news. MIT Tech Review, the Huffington Post and a dozen other outlets and blogs were buzzing about his new headband, capable of reading your thoughts and transferring them to a cell phone.
Imagine, a cell phone you could dial with your mind. One outlet called it “the end of dialing”; another said, “The bar for hands-free technology has officially been raised.” Jung, however, just sighs and says they missed the point.
But while high-tech wizardry makes for fun headlines, UC scientists are poised to make a subtler yet fundamental change to the face of medicine. Using a technology somewhat overlooked for more than a decade, scientists are building a two-way conversation between your brain and the many computers that surround it every day.
“It’s a demonstration of a [brain interface] system that could be applied to daily life. It’s not really the end goal,” says Jung. “Who needs a phone that dials using brain waves if they can actually dial with their hands?”
Jung is associate director at the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at UC San Diego, where researchers lead a new field called Brain Computer Interface, or BCI. The emerging area is littered with impressive toys and dazzling gadgets, like robots that move with a thought and artificial arms that respond at will, almost like real ones.
For the full story, go to the UC Research website.