On the surface iBrain may look like nothing more than a simple headband, however, the device can actually be used to read your thoughts. When worn around your head, the simple-looking band can analyze your brain waves and map out that data — data then can then be used to help monitor or even diagnose medical conditions.
iBrain was invented by a team at NeuroVigil, a company based in San Diego. Led by neuroscientist Philip Low, the team anticipates iBrain being able to ultimately allow people to communicate by just thinking.
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has been helping the group with testing, particularly as it pertains to people who may, like him, be paralyzed and unable to speak or move. Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Dr. Low and his company have done some outstanding work in this field,” Hawking said in a statement to The New York Times. “I am participating in this project in the hope that I can offer insights and practical advice to NeuroVigil. I wish to assist in research, encourage investment in this area, and, most importantly, to offer some future hope to people diagnosed with A.L.S. and other neurodegenerative conditions.”
The idea behind the test is to see if Hawking can create repeatable pattern with his mind that when paired with a computer can be translated into something like a letter or command. Early tests show that the headband can in fact discern thoughts. For instance, when the team asked Hawking to imagine balling his hand into a fist, they were able to see changes in his brain pattern.
The team has plans to test the device on more A.L.S patients in the future. Hawking currently uses a system that picks up twitches in his cheek to communicate. Although he says his cheek twitch system is still a little faster, he’s willing to give future versions of iBrain a try.
What do you think about the iBrain? Tell us in the comments what potential uses you see for this mind-reading device.