A Toronto-based company has developed a system called thought-control computing and it's exploring a range of commercial opportunities that include screens on airplanes and video games.
Ariel Garten of InteraXon said the possibilities are endless. "Basically this is ultimately going to be the way that we engage the world on daily basis," the Globe and Mail quoted Garten as saying. "This is the way that we're going to be controlling the lights in our homes, controlling our household products, (and) dialling our mobile phones," she said.
The technology involves a regular-looking headset - but one embedded with electrodes that read brain waves. The brain waves are then processed on a computer. "When you focus, you create beta waves; when you relax, you create alpha waves," Garten explained.
She said once a person learns to control the alpha and beta waves, the "control signal" can then be used to program anything from lighting, to music, to motors.
A Canadian Press reporter who visited InterAxon's office to test the technology confirmed that it works, but that its uses seemed to be quite limited at this point.
Garten predicted the headset will ultimately become as small as a wireless bluetooth device and the technology will be available within two years. Garten said aircraft giants Bombardier and Boeing were recently shown a thought-controlled in-flight entertainment system and "the initial meetings we had were greeted with great enthusiasm."
But apart from controlling lights and other devices, the 30-year-old psychotherapist said the process could also be used in to treat children with Attention Deficit Disorder. "There's a lot of research that shows 10 to 12 one-hour sessions using this system are as effective as Ritalin," she said.
Garten said it could also help monitor a person's mental state. "Just like we do heart-monitoring now, for example, brain-monitoring allows you to measures the health and distress of a patient," she said.