During our relatively short lifetimes, we have seen incredible developments in communication. As technology improves, it drives more options to connect and share with others across platforms, countries, and the globe. However, could the biggest scientific breakthrough in our lifetime stem from the evolution of mankind’s intelligence? Has technology fostered the discovery of telepathy? And what will this mean for the human race and the way in which we process and share our thoughts? Electroencephalography (EEG) sensors that pick up and monitor brain activity have been aiding brain wave technology advancement at a rapid rate in recent years, and can potentially reshape the way we communicate with each other.
Am I A Mind Reader?
Scientists at the University of Washington (UW) successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people. As part of the study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet, and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.
Funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the research team is now taking the next steps in attempting to decode and transmit more complex brain processes. The goal will be to establish different types of information and transfer these brain-to-brain, including complex visual and psychological observances such as concepts, thoughts and rules.
Great Minds Think Alike
It’s believed that those who will benefit first in the initial wave of this connection will be patients who are suffering from brain damage, and need to relearn basic motor skills like walking. These patients could benefit in the enhancements this technology brings to hyper-personalized neurorehabilitation. Essentially, this could enable motor function signals to be sent from a healthy brain to the impaired brain to speed up the relearning process.
Furthermore, skilled professionals such as pilots or surgeons could use brain-to-brain communication to control movements remotely, supplying their expertise without physical presence. Imagine if a young pilot suddenly needed to perform a complicated emergency landing, and a seasoned flight captain could “dial-in” to his brain!
Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?
If our brain function evolves to instantly send thoughts, emails, and ideas over the Internet, what does this mean for the business world? Will this new breakthrough signal a redefinition in how we communicate with others?
A technique called ‘Brain tutoring’ is something which scientists from UW predict will become a possible next step in the progression of brain-to-brain communication. Teachers could impart a wealth of information on specialized subjects to students effectively, which is a huge advantage to students who are learning impaired. New employees could be brought up to speed on a new workplace by experienced colleagues who can essentially transmit their education and insight onto the new hire, which means less time training and more time spent doing the job.
Brainstorming In The Workplace
Productivity will be heightened in an environment where the exchange of ideas is instant and seamless. Less time will be spent sending emails, making calls and scheduling face to face meetings. Visuals aids such as presentations can be transmitted and ‘viewed’ in real time. Furthermore, additional studies have found that in the future there may not even be the need to learn a language. Last year, hooked up to brain wave headsets, a researcher in India projected a thought to a colleague in France, and they understood each other.
With the wave of The Internet of Things, so-called wearables are expected to grow from an $8 billion (in annual revenue) market today to a $20 billion one by 2017, according to Futuresource Consulting, with products such as Nike’s FuelBand leading the way. Currently there are already companies selling brain wave reading devices, designed to respond and act according to brain activity. Products such as Muse headbands and Halo promise to boost brain function and fitness. Mynd Play is the first mind controlled media player, and NeuroSky’s MindWave can attach to Google Glass to allow you to take a picture and post it to Facebook and Twitter just by thinking about it.
The developments in brain-to-brain communications are fascinating and fast moving, and highlight the ever increasing presence technology has on human existence and interaction. To read the detailed report on the UW study findings, click here.