Friday, 1 January 2010

mind-controlled wheelchair

So I was watching a programme covering notable events of the year 2009, and amongst the obvious falling wall anniversaries and global financial collapses, a cursory mention was made about Toyota's release of a new faster-than-ever 'mind-controlled wheelchair' onto the market in mid-2009.

The wheelchair user's intentions ("turn left", "turn right" etc) produce definable electrical impulses which are picked up by a network of sensors that are embedded in a cap that the user wears on her head. These electrical impulses are analysed by an onboard computer, which translates the results to movement in a speedy 125 milliseconds. Check out the video on youtube.

Ok, so this isn't psychokinesis, but still pretty amazing - only difference with PK is that the process of converting an intention into an external response (without assistance of a finger or toe) is not only understood but made useable. Think of a future with this technology (with improvements)! The possibilities multiply exponentially with each aha!...

Think: sensor-embedded skullcaps indispensable as shoes. Think also: models skulking down catwalks sporting the latest fashion in sensor-embedded caps. Then think: doors and elevators, cars and motorbikes, lawnmowers, computer games and household appliances, all connected to your sensor-cap, picking up the electrical pulses and carrying out the commands. Imagine a world like this! Hands-free!

Maybe it would be fun for a while.

In the long run, however, the elimination of necessary physical activity to convert intention into a physical outcome could have some pretty disastrous consequences. Imagine arriving home from an exhausting day at work (where you were expected to work mind and hands in tandem), and throwing yourself on the sofa, where you proceed to switch on the lights, turn on the kettle in the kitchen, zap through the tv channels and make a few phone-calls without moving a finger! Man would you get FAT!

Or what if you don't really know what you want? What if you want something, but aren't aware of it? Could the technology pick up on an image, a memory, something you saw on tv earlier? What about clashing commands from different users?

Despite the long list of possible problems, I'm a believer in all things new. After some decades of lying in our sofas (it's not like we don't do that already), and setting fire to the kitchen, new ways of using the mind-matter technology would probably emerge that we haven't even thought of yet. Can't wait. Bring it on.

1 comment:

  1. Funnily the world you talk about in which everyone has these powers doesn't sound very different to the world as it is right now