Play video games with your friends using your mind
This brain-to-brain communication interface called BrainNet has been created by researchers at University of Washington.
Tetris? For the uninitiated, it’s a game where different shapes of blocks fall from the top. A player has to rotate them to fit with the ones that are stacked below. Researchers, as an experiment, used three people to play game. The participants, without talking, had to send instructions to each other through the mind.
This brain-to-brain communication interface called BrainNet has been created by researchers at University of Washington. The interface helps in communicating through the mind, also called Telepathic communication.
The technology was tested by playing games. But, it can be also be used for various purposes like solving a task or communicating without speaking.
This is the first time that researchers have been able to establish a brain-to-brain network of more than two people. And also the first time a person has been able to receive and send information to others by just using her brain. You can imagine the possibilities this technology enables.
The researchers involved three people communicating with each other while playing a Tetris-like game. Two people, called senders, were able to see both the block and the line in the game, but were not in control of the game. The third person, the receiver, was the controller of the game and can see only blocks. He can also rotate the blocks and is the player of the game.
How did they rotate a block?
Once the sender decides to rotate a block, he sent a 'Yes' or a 'No' to the receiver’s brain.
How exactly you might ask?
There is a screen that shows 'Yes' and 'No' options. The LED on the screen flashes 17 times per second for the 'Yes' option. While the LED with 'No' option, flashes 15 times per second. To send either of this option/instruction to the receiver, the senders have to concentrate on one of the blinking LED lights.
What happens next?
Once the sender concentrates on the LED light, the difference is flashing pattern creates unique activities in the brain of the sender. These unique activities are identified by electroencephalography caps that are worn by the sender.
The caps convey the information to the computer. A cursor on the computer screen moves towards the desired choice and selections are made. This selection is then sent over to the receiver via internet. Since the receiver also wears the same cap, if the answer is 'Yes', then the receiver would see the bright flash. No light for ‘No’.
This experiment was tried on five groups. Each group played 16 round of the game. The participants were placed in different rooms so that they couldn't see, hear or speak to each other.
One of the researchers says that “We essentially ‘trick’ the neurons in the back of the brain to spread around the message that they have received signals from the eyes. Then participants have the sensation that bright arcs or objects suddenly appear in front of their eyes.”
The senders can also review the receiver’s decision and send corrections if they disagreed. The team hopes the technology will allow people to collaborate and solve problems that one brain couldn’t solve.
Problems that might occur:
The ethics of a mind-to-mind interface is a concern that should be kept in mind. Also, makers need to ensure that the privacy of every individual is respected as the technology improves.
“But for now, this is just a baby step. Our equipment is still expensive and very bulky and the task is a game, we’re in the ‘Kitty Hawk’ days of brain interface technologies: We’re just getting off the ground.” says one of the authors of the research paper.