Samsung’s ‘mind-controlled’ tablet could be of huge benefit to disabled

Reports are surfacing that Samsung is working on a new mind controlled tablet that would use mind control as a way of interacting with these types of devices. The South Korean telecommunications company is supposedly experimenting, alongside US researchers, on launching applications by concentrating on a blinking icon on the screen.

a cap which is dotted with EEG-monitoring electrodes, in order to use the mind controlled tablet

EEG-monitoring electrodes, in order to use the mind controlled tablet

So far users have to wear a cap which is dotted with EEG-monitoring electrodes, in order to use the mind controlled tablet, but lead researcher for Samsung – Insoo Kim, has high hopes, and spoke to news website MIT Technology Review:

“Several years ago, a small keypad was the only input modality to control the phone, but nowadays the user can use voice, touch, gesture and eye movement to control and interact with mobile devices. Adding more input modalities will provide us with more convenient and richer ways of interacting with mobile devices.”

Kim thinks that using your mind to launch applications is a natural progression, and thanks to the Galaxy S4’s innovative new features, such as SmartScroll, in which the software allows the user to scroll through web pages, emails and other net content by analysing their eyes, and SmartPause, where the user can pause a video by simply looking away from the screen, this technology may not be as futuristic as some may think.

Challenges of using the mind controlled tablet

Research into a mind controlled tablet is a collaboration between Kim and Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, but Jarafi has already highlighted one challenge, adapting the EEG sensors to become more user-friendly. Typically, EEG systems have to have gel or wet contact electrodes, in order for the signals from the brain to be received efficiently.

Jafari said: “Depending on how many electrodes you have, this can take up to 45 minutes to set up, and the system is uncomfortable.” However, he has managed to invent a dry set of EEG sensors, but they still take around 10 seconds to set up and the user has to wear a cap covered with wires.

Kim reports that the system can correctly recognize thoughts about 80 to 95% of the time, which is fairly accurate, he does admit however that the system is still relatively slow, allowing you to make a selection only every five seconds. And whilst it would be of huge benefit for disabled customers, it is not known how such a mind controlled tablet would fair in a mainstream market.

Mind controlled devices are nothing new, but are they worth the effort? As Kevin Brown, a senior inventor at IBM’s emerging technology lab, explains: “Everyone finds it incredibly hard work on focus on controlling devices,” he said. One experiment in which he sent an email using mind control took 20 minutes. “These things are nowhere near usable by the general population but these experiments give us a feeling for where the technology may take us, to help with things such as locked-in syndrome, for instance.”

More information about the mind controlled tablet can be found on this story at technologyreview.com

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