Pre-thinking:

What is it like to suddenly go from being physically handicapped to becoming a person with motor control and physical ability? What if it was done by having your brain send signals to directly to a computer that you activate with brain activity? If it sounds like futuristic sci-fi, watch this talk, because the future is here.

Why you should listen:

Tan Le’s astonishing new computer interface reads its user’s brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications. It’s long been a dream to bypass the mechanical (mouse, keyboard, clicker) and have our digital devices respond directly to what we think. Emotiv’s EPOC headset uses 16 sensors to listen to activity across the entire brain. Software “learns” what each user’s brain activity looks like when one, for instance, imagines a left turn or a jump.

 Who is she:

Tan Le is a refugee from Vietnam at age 4, she entered college at 16 and has since become a vital young leader in her home country of Australia. Tan Le is the co-founder and president of Emotiv Lifescience. Before this, she headed a firm that worked on a new form of remote control that uses brainwaves to control digital devices and digital media.

 Discussion questions:

  1. How has our communication with machines been limited in the past?
  2. What are two challenges found when trying to interpret signals naturally produced by our brain? Describe what has been done to overcome these challenges.
  3. What are some advantages of the EEG acquisition system Le presented?
  4. What tasks were Evan Grant asked to demonstrate on stage, and what was discovered from each task?
  5. In what ways can this new technology be applied to the real world?
  6. In what ways would you likely use a headset like Emotiv’s EPOC headset?

A headset that reads your brainwaves with Tan Le

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