May 13, 2008
1. CYBERNETIC HELMET? Sure.
Voice-activation software is already available. But how about the hard part -- making a computer respond to thought commands, whether spoken aloud or not? A colleague of Kakalios' at the University of Minnesota, biomedical engineering professor Bin He, is hard at work on a device that uses an electroencephalograph (EEG) to pick up signals sent by the firing of neurons in the brain. Neurons create electrical currents, and those currents create electrical and magnetic fields. The EEG retrieves the signals and converts them into computer commands. Instead of flipping a switch, then, you can just think about what you want to do -- fire a weapon, say -- and the helmet takes care of the rest. In real life, Bin He's work is intended to benefit people with disabilities or prosthetic limbs.