05/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

May the Force Be With You: Move It With Your Mind

Scott Susskind from the IPG Lab using the Neurosky headset while playing Neuroboy

A few days ago, I was introduced to Neurosky's brain-computer interface technology. In essence, Neurosky's unit senses brain activity noting general levels of attention and meditation. The unit then translates this activity to move objects in the real world or in a game on a computer screen. Yes, that's right. You can finally move things just by thinking about it.

Here's the long and short of it. The user wears a headset that looks very similar to a common pair of headphones. The technology uses what's called electroencephalography to record brain signals. In the common medical sort, a conductive gel is used to facilitate the collection of these signals. In Neurosky's case, they use one patented dry-active sensor for getting the job done.

"This is the first time the technology is really venturing out of the medical lab into the real world," said NeuroSky CEO Stanley Yang.


Most recently, this technology was showcased at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, allowing users to control the intensity of a light installation just by focusing their attention.

Neurosky's technology has also been successfully implemented in a variety of other successful applications including games like the Star Wars Force Trainer in Summer '09 and Mattel's Mind Flex which launched over the holidays.

Star Wars Force Trainer

The Star Wars Force Trainer allows the user to lift a ball using the "force" otherwise known as attention in this case.

Mind Flex

The Mind Flex upped the complexity a bit by allowing the user to move a ball through a maze very reminiscent of the game Mouse Trap. Both games quickly sold out.

Neurosky's main competitor is another northern California company named Emotiv. Neurosky seems to have the head start in the product launch department with their two best-selling games. They also sell their headset with a few software applications at $199. Emotiv, by comparison, offers their product at $299. Their headset alternatively features 14 wet sensors that require the application of a saline solution.

The applications of this technology could be endless. In addition to sensing attention and meditation, the headset can also sense blinks. Imagine controlling the lights in a home with a blink of an eye. If they can just figure out how to sense a nose wrinkle, I can finally get my I Dream of Jeannie on.

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