Tan Le's astonishing new computer interface reads its user's brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications.
Tan Le is the co-founder and president of Emotiv Systems, a firm that's working on a new form of remote control that uses brainwaves to control digital devices and digital media. It's long been a dream to bypass the mechanical (mouse, keyboard, clicker) and have our digital devices respond directly to what we think. Emotiv's recently released EPOC headset uses 16 sensors to listen to activity across the entire brain. Software "learns" what each user's brain activity looks like when one, for instance, imagines a left turn or a jump.
Neuroscientists have expressed varying views about Emotiv's headset and technology -- electrical activity in the brain is notoriously difficult to decode -- but it does work. It is a natural for gaming, where ever more complex environments demand more complex inputs. But it's also a potential gamechanger for accessibility apps, such as steering a wheelchair. Le herself has an extraordinary story -- a refugee from Vietnam at age 4, she entered college at 16 and has since become a vital young leader in her home country of Australia.