Scan a brain, read a mind?

What we write online may be intercepted, filtered and publicized, but we’d like to think that the thoughts and images in our heads are totally private.

For better or worse, science may change that. Over the last few years, researchers have made significant strides in decoding our thoughts based on brain activity…

Does anyone doubt that it’s just a matter of time before a device like the Prometheus interface depicted in MindScans becomes real?

Virtual Reality Hardware and the Future

Sony just released their VR Headset.

Read more here:

Virtual reality gets a new player with Sony’s ‘Project Morpheus’

And Microsoft is due to release their version next year.

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All in hot pursuit of the Oculus Rift.

And now Facebook of all companies has purchased Oculus for 2 billion.

VR is no doubt in our collective futures. Perhaps not as an audio/visual device (still too gimmicky really), but once we have direct mind connections, well, you might watch MindScans to see the can of worms that will open!

Look Ma, No Hands! Mind-Controlled Helicopter Flies on Brainwaves

It may seem like science fiction, but researchers are experimenting with a mind-controlled device that enables users to fly a model helicopter with only their thoughts.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis created a brain-computer interface – a system that allows the brain to communicate directly with an external device…

Sound familiar?

First mind-controlled bionic leg a ‘groundbreaking’ advance

After losing his lower right leg in a motorcycle accident four-and-a-half years ago, 32-year-old Zac Vawter has been fitted with an artificial limb that uses neurosignals from his upper leg muscles to control the prosthetic knee and ankle. The motorized limb is the first thought-controlled bionic leg, scientists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago reported Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is a groundbreaking development,” says lead author Levi Hargrove, a biomedical engineer and research scientist at RIC. “It allows people to seamlessly transition between walking along level ground and going up and down stairs and slopes.”

Until now, only thought-controlled bionic arms have been available to amputees.

When Vawter thinks he wants to move his leg, the brain signal travels down his spinal cord and through peripheral nerves and is picked up by electrodes in the bionic leg…

Virtual Reality needs a controller? How about mind controlled?

Who needs humans? Chimps go ape over sweet-talking robot

We lost the cats to the Roombas, and the dogs to the pointing PeopleBots. Now, it seems that robots are casting a spell on curious chimps, too.

When 16 chimps from the Yerkes National Primate Center in Georgia encountered Robota, a doll who made pre-recorded chimp sounds from her chest, they tried to befriend her and talk to her, and they even banged on their cages to invite her to play.

“In one case, a chimp laughed at the robot while gesturing ‘play,'” Marina Davila-Ross, a psychology lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and part of the team who watched the chimps interact with Robota, wrote in Ars Technica.

Two chimpanzees, Faye and Jarred, offered the robot “toys,” she writes. Almost all the chimps tried to communicate with the bot using gestures or facial expressions, Davila-Ross and her co-authors note in a new study in Animal Cognition.

Quite the charmer: Robota doll befriended chimps at the Yerkes National Primate Center.

University of Portsmouth

Quite the charmer: Robota the doll befriended chimps at the Yerkes National Primate Center.

The chimps were particularly interested when the bot – to the extent that it could – mimicked apelike movements. They were less interested when her movements seemed more human.

For anyone who’s surprised that our primate relatives seem smitten with a robotic playmate, remember that we form bonds with robots, too…

Makes the concept of ALF’s more plausible doesn’t it?

Virtual reality gaming is nearly here – we just need the right controller

Video games have long promised to offer their players “immersive experiences,” but full-blown virtual reality (the holodeck or the matrix) was still a fantasy. Now with the Oculus Rift headset on the horizon, that’s no longer the case: soon gamers will be able to slip on a pair of high-tech goggles and truly be immersed in a virtual world.

The only problem is: How will gamers play when they get there? With the Oculus Rift still in development for a full consumer launch, developers are finally realizing the deficiency of contemporary controls. In this brave new world where “The Matrix” suddenly doesn’t seem like too remote a possibility, the standard joysticks and gamepads that gamers have been using for decades are defunct…

The next big ideas from ‘Idea Man’ Paul Allen: A.I. and cell biology

Software billionaire Paul Allen is already using his riches to further brain science, spaceflight, rock ‘n’ roll history (and oh, the Seattle Seahawks, too) but he’s not done yet: Artificial intelligence and cell biology are the next big ideas on the agenda for the guy who calls himself “Idea Man.”…

OK, doesn’t this “idea” sound like a movie we made? 😉

Examined, the Virtual Life Is Worth Living

The habit of insisting that the virtual life is somehow not part of real life has diminished with time. Few people regard, say, online magazines as fake magazines anymore. And more than one politician has been felled by a scandal involving sex that was purely digital. So even though it wasn’t physical, it must have been real. Right?…

Brain scans reveal which ‘vegetative’ patients are alert, trapped in bodies

A man who had appeared to have been in a vegetative state for 12 years knew his name and knew where he was, Canadian researchers report in a study showing it’s possible to use MRI brain scans to establish communication with people who seem completely unconscious.

Three people tested using a special form of MRI called functional magnetic resonance imaging were able to answer simple “yes” or “no” questions, the team at Western University in London, Ontario report.

They say their findings don’t mean everyone in a coma or a persistent vegetative state is conscious, but it should help doctors find out who is and who isn’t…