Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Input Devices Biotech Science Technology

From Touchpad To Thought-pad 92

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-about-dirty-minds dept.
An anonymous reader wrote with a story saying "Move over, touchpad screens: New research funded in part by the National Institutes of Health shows that it is possible to manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind. The study, published in Nature, found that when research subjects had their brains connected to a computer displaying two merged images, they could force the computer to display one of the images and discard the other. The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

From Touchpad To Thought-pad

Comments Filter:
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:23AM (#34050560) Homepage

    On the one hand, the control and abilities of computers would grow by leaps and bounds if they were mind-controlled.

    On the other hand, there's something to be said of tactile feedback. I'm not sure if brain-->computer would be as satisfying as brain-->hands-->computer.

    • But what if that computer was portable enough to carry or fit in the skull, and could be used to store information?

      I have to agree that some applications are better with hands. Namely games that were designed for the mouse + keyboard, but there are plenty of other uses that will come of better and better brain-to-computer tech.

    • What if in the process of brain-->computer they send inputs to your brain that send the signals to the touch feel centers of the brain, so you precieve the tactile feedback?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TerminaMorte (729622)
      Not to you or me maybe; we'll be too used to using our hands. But what about people who grow up with it? Maybe in a few decades computers won't even come with mice/keyboard. That's only for old people. :P
      • by dasacc22 (1830082)
        eventually this old-man syndrome is going to disperse into the existential shallowness of past thought and kids are going to grow up expecting something completely different every month, week, and day while we're stuck slinging around phrases like old-dogs and new-tricks and making fun of our grandparents trudging around in the snow for 20 miles to read emily dickenson at the town barn, converted school house
        • Eh, new stuff all the time is overrated. The truth is that it takes time for any tech to be understood, and the better understanding you have of something the more you can usually do with it. We see this all the time with video game systems--most of them get much more interesting a few years after they've been out.

          What worries me more is the unconscious assumption that newer == better. In this instance, people are talking about substituting a complicated system that directly interfaces with an even more

      • You mean you have to use your hands? That's like a baby's toy!

    • by melikamp (631205)

      A thought-controlled computer would feel just like a part of your mind. It would be nice to have feedback, though: like being able to recall thoughts or images from the computer memory. Then even the biggest doofus will recognize that non-free software is a disease.

      The tactile contact will also get bigger, in form of autonomous bots. These will be non-free for a long time, I am afraid, until MLK-bot comes along.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      There's also something to be said about having WIRES IN YOUR BRAIN. Yes, I have an eye implant and have had doctors stick needles in that eye (twice), but it was to keep from going blind.

      The only way I'd let them put wires in my brain would be to prevent or cure brain damage.

    • On the one hand, the control and abilities of computers would grow by leaps and bounds if they were mind-controlled.

      On the other hand, there's something to be said of tactile feedback. I'm not sure if brain-->computer would be as satisfying as brain-->hands-->computer.

      You don't actually need tactile feedback for a lot of things. A lot of people don't like touch keyboards because the lack of tactile feedback but what they really want is -ANY- form of feedback. Most touch keyboards do of course, highlight the key you are pressing but of course your finger is in the way so you can't see it.

      You would have a greater access to visual feedback - instead of needing to feel the "press" of a button you would simply be able to SEE your input, and if you didn't like it, you could go

    • On the other hand, there's something to be said of tactile feedback.

  • by Bicx (1042846)
    That's quite an ambiguous term. For instance, my hand can probably hold about 1/3 of my brain matter.

    However, my girlfriend hand (which is considerably smaller than mine) could probably hold several brains the size of her own.

    Now this joke is really getting out of hand...
  • Sure, why not? With proper training exercises (much like learning to type), you could navigate through your PC with thought alone. Things like task switching, putting windows to the forefront, new tabs, minimizing...etc all could be done. More granular items might be more of a challenge such as thought typing and drawing on the screen. But none the less, such technology would be a versatile compliment to the mouse and keyboard used today.

    • by IICV (652597)

      More granular items might be more of a challenge such as thought typing and drawing on the screen

      Actually I bet you anything that we'll have reliable "thought-typing" before we have reliable general "speech-typing". Once you know how to touch type, hitting an 'A' always requires twitching the same muscles, which should be a detectable "thought". This sort of consistent input => consistent output is the sort of thing computers are really good at modelling, unlike speech - take your laptop to a room with d

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:34AM (#34050776)
    My computer has been controlled by my brain for years. I think about how i want my fingers to move and the text gets entered into the system. As an added benefit, i can prevent my computer from accepting text from my thoughts by simply putting my hands in a different place!
    • by radtea (464814)

      My computer has been controlled by my brain for years.

      Yeah, the summary hits new highs (or lows, depending on how you're scoring) on self-contradictory gibberish: "is possible to manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind. The study, published in Nature, found that when research subjects had their brains connected to a computer" by some complicated collection of hardware...

      So apparently "only the mind" means "the brain plus some incredibly complicated hardware that we aren't going to count because, well, uh, BECAUSE!"

    • by Stregano (1285764)
      I do like using the keyboard, because if it used my brain, that would be bad. I guess I am known as scatter-brained or whatever it is called where I will think of one idea and then jump to another idea before 1 is completed. Plus my mind has a mouth of a sailor when I am programming, and there is no need to for those words to appear on my screen
  • Thought-controlled computers are inevitable, but it could be pretty awkward. People already have trouble not saying what they want to only think to themselves, now people are going to have to control what they think before they think it? Oh shit. That's going to be really hard on men...

    "Oh, hi Carol..." {don't think about boobs ... don't think about boobs... oh shit I'm thinking about boobs!}

    "Uh, hi Bob... wait, why did your computer just start searching for 'huge boobs'?"

    "Er... I uh..."

    Luckily by
    • Inevitable? Really?

      It'll end up just like cold fusion and flying cars, IMO.

      • Inevitable. Really.

        Quite frankly the only thing that could prevent it would be a worldwide nuclear holocaust, and even then I'm not so sure.

        Cold fusion (as a sustainable source of power) may or may not be physically possible. Flying cars are a logistical nightmare.

        Neural interfaces are obviously possible, and there are no insurmountable logistical or engineering barriers to their implementation, and the payoff is enormous, for the disabled especially but some significant degree for practically everybo
        • The gap between "concentrate very hard on some thing to make something simple happen" and "make the computer do what I want by thinking about it" is huge--I think it insurmountably huge. The optimism displayed strikes me as exactly the same sort that futurists had for flying cars decades ago. The term "logistical nightmare" seems perfectly apt to me. I recognize that I'm in the minority. I suppose time will tell.

          Anyone want to place a bet? ;)

  • by Trailwalker (648636) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:38AM (#34050858)

    The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells."

    AKA: Posting

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:39AM (#34050886) Homepage

    I'd want to be sure I have some pretty good filtering ... otherwise BOOBIES stray thoughts BOOBIES are going to be injecting BOOBIES themselves into BOOBIES what I'm doing and really BOOBIES mess things up.

    Humans are SQUIRREL easily distracted, so if you're not BOOBIES careful, you're going to get MMMM ... CAKE some random activity.

    • by antdude (79039)

      "The cake is a lie." :P

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        "The cake is a lie." :P

        But ... but ... it's cake. Cake doesn't lie. =)

        • by antdude (79039)

          Prove it. Show me the cake. You will never get the cake! :)

        • Pedantic grammar man, to the rescue! In this case the cake is not acting but being. A cake, being inanimate, inherently cannot act, only be acted upon. So you are correct to say that the cake cannot lie; however, that does not preclude the cake from being a lie. When a sentient actor purports that there is cake where there is in fact not cake, the cake can be said to be, as purported and conveyed, a lie. Of course there is no physical cake, so the 'being' is an abstraction, the concept as conveyed is false,
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      I'd want to be sure I have some pretty good filtering ... otherwise BOOBIES stray thoughts BOOBIES are going to be injecting BOOBIES themselves into BOOBIES what I'm doing and really BOOBIES mess things up.

      Humans are SQUIRREL easily distracted, so if you're not BOOBIES careful, you're going to get MMMM ... CAKE some random activity.

      The real acid test is to let G. Bush (either one) use it. If george can use it, destroy the damn thing. The thought pad not George, but on the other hand...

    • by CCarrot (1562079)

      Wow, that would be a whole new world for advertisers!

      Talk about targeting based on keywords (keyconcepts?), so every time a 12-70yo male user is connected, they're saturated with product ads by whatever company bought the thought-concept BOOBIES...your targeted ads could be more revealing than ever before!

  • Hell Im only 26 but I'll be damned if I go jacking my brain up into machine interfaces. Give me an old fashion mouse with a side of keys and stay off my lawn
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Hell Im only 26 but I'll be damned if I go jacking my brain up into machine interfaces. Give me an old fashion mouse with a side of keys and stay off my lawn

      Attaboy. Us old timers won't be around for long, so someone has to keep the youngun's in line.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'm with ya, kid. When the technology matures to the point you can just put on a funny hat and control the computer with your brain, THEN I'll be on board. But wires in my brain? No way.

  • The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells.

    Which is a should be a relief for most people here. From what I've seen they only possess a handful of brain cells to begin with.

  • 1) It from Anon.
    2) It starts with "Move over (insert old product)"
    3) A direct neural interfaces is the holy grail of computer input. There have been a lot of stories about it. This is not DNI. This is nowhere close. This is a small step, an important step. But the hype that surrounds these sort of stories is just appalling. And it's detrimental too. You jade the populace to scientific advancement and deliver them false hope.

    Seriously, stop with the hype. I know it's exciting to live in the future, bu
  • "The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells"

    This seems like the same amount of brain cells to do just about anything, except maybe winning a spelling contest at a Tea-party rally.
  • .. is that you cant avoid thinking. In voice controlled interfaces exist the problem of what happens when you talk with someone, but with tougth, is just worse. Imagine that the computer detect the pattern needed for some action when you watch porn, or read a particular word or phrase (that could get a new via for malware)
    • I wonder if the way to get around the problem, is by requiring thought interfaces to always require a choice. Like in the article, I think that's where things get interesting. I once saw some show on Hawking's typing (maybe speaking) interface, and it consisted of predictive text. that showed him a choice of words or letters and narowed things down as he made choices. If the choices could be made to operate at the speed with which you though them, this might work. It might only work in specialized vocabul

      • by Zotov (1766696)
        If only there was a big company willing to spend enormous resources to research what people usually "choose" and return those possible choices to us before we even finished "thinking" them. But that's just the stuff of fiction.
    • I thought that your first tougth must have been a pretty bad typo. But then you said tougth again...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Please people, have you guys ever used a BCI before? You learn to control one just as one learns to control an arm. You can think about moving an arm without actually moving it, just like you'll be able to (and already can) think of a BCI command without having the hardware pick up that command.

      Your mind is always active, yet your arms aren't constantly flying around. Why do people think a BCI is different?

  • I'd be more interested in learning how they implemented this in software. Is it just something like: if(brain.madeNoise == 1) then canvas.removeTopImage() else canvas.removeBottomImage() ? Or are there more complicated things going on here? I have trouble imagining that this is based off a normal touchpad interface, because there aren't any controls I'm aware of that can select between one of two overlaid figures....
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday October 28, 2010 @11:59AM (#34051224)
    If you believe in telekinesis, raise my hand!
  • Consider touchscreens were invented in the 1970s at the University of Kentucky, and they haven't hit true widespread usage until the past few years, I'm not expecting to see this on the market anytime soon.
  • I thought I taw a putty tat
  • "Thought projection by neurons in the human brain" from NatureVideoChannel

    Video report from the authors [youtube.com]

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      I am not sure if this article in Nature is free or not, but I found it more scientific than the daily med:

      'Marilyn Monroe' neuron aids mind control [nature.com]

      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        There's also the actual research abstract:

        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v467/n7319/abs/nature09510.html [nature.com]

        On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons

        Moran Cerf, Nikhil Thiruvengadam, Florian Mormann, Alexander Kraskov, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Christof Koch & Itzhak Fried

        Nature 467 , 1104–1108 (28 October 2010) doi:10.1038/nature09510
        Received 08 January 2010 Accepted 14 September 2010 Published online 27 October 2010

        Daily life continually confronts us with an exuberance of external, sensory stimuli competing with a rich stream of internal deliberations, plans and ruminations. The brain must select one or more of these for further processing. How this competition is resolved across multiple sensory and cognitive regions is not known; nor is it clear how internal thoughts and attention regulate this competition1, 2, 3, 4. Recording from single neurons in patients implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons5, 6, 7, 8, 9, here we demonstrate that humans can regulate the activity of their neurons in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) to alter the outcome of the contest between external images and their internal representation. Subjects looked at a hybrid superposition of two images representing familiar individuals, landmarks, objects or animals and had to enhance one image at the expense of the other, competing one. Simultaneously, the spiking activity of their MTL neurons in different subregions and hemispheres was decoded in real time to control the content of the hybrid. Subjects reliably regulated, often on the first trial, the firing rate of their neurons, increasing the rate of some while simultaneously decreasing the rate of others. They did so by focusing onto one image, which gradually became clearer on the computer screen in front of their eyes, and thereby overriding sensory input. On the basis of the firing of these MTL neurons, the dynamics of the competition between visual images in the subject’s mind was visualized on an external display.

  • I only have a handful of brain cells left.
  • Yes, definitely a clear and direct line between manipulating images on a screen in the lab and the iPad. I think Apple should immediately shutter its iPad business right now, as this will clearly disrupt next quarter's iPad sales. Does every idiot on the net have to somehow blabber "iPod","iPhone" or "iPad" when they want attention?
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Since your reference to the terms "iPod", "iPhone", and "iPad" are the very first ones in the discussion thread, and none of them appears in either the original article or the summary, I'd have to allow you to answer that for yourself.

      Did you, in fact, have to blabber those three terms to get attention?

      Because no one else did.

      Or are you confusing the term "touchpad" with an Apple product?

  • From the article:

    [...] had fine wires implanted in their brains [...]

    Right, because plugging YOUR BRAIN to a computer is so much more convenient than gliding your finger on the screen.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      yeah, it's still a touch screen. instead of touching UI with a finger, you have to touch it with *your fucking brain*. and it's sharp and pointy and stabs its way in too. big improvement. how about a car jack I have to operate with my scrotum?

  • ...for the iThought. Or maybe, simply for iRony's sake, it'll be called the iThink.
  • Nature news itself covers this story a little better here [nature.com].

    You might be interested to know that the volunteers for this study were patients with severe epilepsy, and the neural recordings were from electrodes actually inserted into the patients' brains. Similar work has been done recording from the brains of e.g., monkeys in order to control a robotic arm (rather than control a video display). This involves invasive surgery that wouldn't be done unless there was also a medical necessity for it.

  • ThinkPad!
    ...again
  • ... manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind

    First thing that came to mind was, "Ooh, editing photos with the GIMP!"

  • "The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells."

    Isn't that usually the case anyway? :-)

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz

Working...