Talk About a Mindfuck!

New wave in tech: Hacking the Brain

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Rob Lever
AFP
January 8, 2016

The next frontier for the tech sector is the human brain.

A new breed of neuro-hacker is finding ways to capture and manipulate brainwaves to improve health, with potential to help the severely handicapped.

A number of the innovations were on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where computer scientists and biomedical experts showcased ways to tap into and use brain signals.

The “mind control” headband unveiled by startup BrainCo effectively hacks into brain signals with a range of possible applications — from helping to improve attention spans, to detecting disease, controlling smart home appliances or even a prosthetic device.

The device “translates your brainwaves into electronic signals,” said the Boston-based firm’s Zenchuan Lei.

At CES, BrainCo demonstrated how a person could use the headband to manipulate a prosthetic hand — a potential life-changer for those paralyzed or missing limbs.

“These signals can be used to control objects like a prosthetic hand,” Lei said. “You can turn the lights on or off just by focusing on that.”

The device designed by scientists from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology employs “neuro feedback,” a means of allowing people to control their brain waves for various purposes. It is expected to be sold later this year for less than $150.

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