Army developing ‘synthetic telepathy’

By | October 15, 2008

Synthetic telepathy image

Read This Thought: The U.S. Army is developing a technology known as synthetic telepathy that would allow someone to create email or voice mail and send it by thought alone. The concept is based on reading electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalograph, or EEG.

Vocal cords were overrated anyway. A new Army grant aims to create email or voice mail and send it by thought alone. No need to type an e-mail, dial a phone or even speak a word.

Known as synthetic telepathy, the technology is based on reading electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalograph, or EEG. Similar technology is being marketed as a way to control video games by thought.

“I think that this will eventually become just another way of communicating,” said Mike D’Zmura, from the University of California, Irvine and the lead scientist on the project. … Commercial EEG headsets already exist that allow wearers to manipulate virtual objects by thought alone, noted Sajda, but thinking “move rock” is easier than, say, “Have everyone meet at Starbucks at 5:30.”

One difficulty in composing specific messages is fundamental — EEGs are not very specific. They can only locate a signal to within about one to two centimeters. That’s a large distance in the brain. In the brain’s auditory cortex, for example, two centimeters is the difference between low notes and high notes, D’Zmura said.

Placing electrodes between the skull and the brain would offer more precise readings, but it is expensive and requires invasive surgery.

… Mapping the brain’s response to most of the English language is a large task, and D’Zmura says that it will be 15-20 years before thought-based communication is reality. … To those who might be nervous … , D’Zmura says not to worry. Mind-message composition would take specific conscious thoughts and training to develop them. The device would also have a on/off switch.  – msnbc

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