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Toys Technology

Toys You Control With Your Brain 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-thinking-is-hard dept.
Kaliann writes "Toys that respond to brainwaves are the next generation of unique user interfaces. The Washington Post looks at the current market appeal and future uses of technology that can meaningfully respond to the thoughts of a user. Currently the toys have a fairly simple basic idea: the harder you concentrate the more the object moves. A sensor on the forehead picks up brain waves that are associated with concentration, then levitates a ball in response: basic biofeedback. While this may seem to be a rather humble beginning, progress in this field could have astounding consequences in the advancement of technologies devoted to thought-controlled devices. As the author points out, Jedi Beer Pong is within our grasp."
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Toys You Control With Your Brain

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  • Now we can finally use some devices to measure which of our beverages might contain some Old Janx Spirit [dedanaan.com].

    • by Hojima (1228978) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:05PM (#27691121)

      These toys may be cool, but I can already see a fault with them. I'm fairly knowledgeable about neurofeedback, and I know that messing with the wavelengths of your neocortex without knowing what you're doing can end up making it work improperly. It's best that you consult a licensed (and experienced) practitioner in the field before toying around with these. All though I don't know the details of the frequency that it responds to, I know that there is a delicate balance that must be held between all frequencies to make the mind work at optimum efficiency. Typically, when you even start your neurofeedback sessions, you have to get some big-shot neurologist to take a look at the initial scans (you'll be lucky to find it below a 1000 dollars). I know people who have received full neurofeedback/MRI treatment to get rid of ADD, and they ended up spending around 10k. If you're experienced at controlling all frequencies, or you have received neurofeedback before, there shouldn't be that much of a problem.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        A bottle of Old Janx Spirit is a lot cheaper. But it's expensive to get to a starport that serves it.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:58PM (#27692191) Homepage Journal

        I agree with Hojima, but for different reasons. Much cooler than any toy you can "control with your brain" are the games you can play with your brain itself. I'm a little too old for entheogens, but meditation can lead to some real fun and games, not to mention lower blood pressure and fewer stress related illnesses. Years ago, when I was recovering from an injury, I had a doctor recommend one of those "Sound and Light Machines", and that has led to a couople of decades of exploration of consciousness, lucid dreaming and (again) relaxation and stress reduction. If you want to experience the ultimate FPS or role-playing game, just try some lucid dreaming. I'm now on my third sound and light machine, a Procyon, and I find it really useful and fun. I hate to fly (in airplanes, although flying in a lucid dream is a blast), so now I put on the goggles and earphones hooked to my Procyon before take off, and even the longest, most tedious flight seems to, well, fly by.

        Finally, learning is the best "mind game" of all. Learn to play some Bach on the piano, or to strum a ukulele or other instrument. Get a set of bongo drums and learn about the universe of rhythm.

        I understand that this kind of learning creates other positive changes in the brain that can have a positive impact on lots of areas in your life. Plus, chicks dig musicians.

        I wouldn't worry too much about getting some "licensed practioner" to sign off on a little personal brain research. Far as I can tell, people have been doing such things since at least Plato. As long as you have some other people in your life who can pull your coat if you start to get a little whacky, you'll be OK.

        • lucid dreaming (Score:3, Informative)

          by OglinTatas (710589)

          As far as lucid dreaming goes, you don't even need to buy any fancy gear. If you haven't yet had a lucid dream (one where you are aware of the fact you are dreaming, AND you can sort of control it. Not really control it, but sort of nudge it along in the direction you want. Frinstance the dream where you are being chased by something, you can summon a +5 vorpal blade and confront it. The dream where you are naked in the student center and you are late for your exam and you don't know where it is and you

          • by AP31R0N (723649)

            i tried a dream notebook. In doing so i realized two things.
            1) My subconscious is really farked up
            2) My penmanship at 6am is horrid.

            As for lucid dreaming, i have regular HL2/L4D dreams where my subcon wants me to die horribly. My guns jam or do nothing. But i use my game knowledge to say "no, a sniper rifle at this range would have taken that bastard down". It works pretty well, until i become too aware that i'm changing the dream and wake up.

            3) i kinda wish i had that machine in "Until the End of the W

        • by NeuroCog (1028524)
          For starters, try IONS [ions.org] psi games [ions.org], as they call them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jurily (900488)

        These toys may be cool, but I can already see a fault with them. I'm fairly knowledgeable about neurofeedback, and I know that messing with the wavelengths of your neocortex without knowing what you're doing can end up making it work improperly.

        Nah. You can't break your brain just by thinking. The brain can and will adapt, unless you have serious problems. Have you ever been daydreaming on the highway, and suddenly you realize you don't know what happened in the last five miles? Yet you didn't crash, because your brain can drive even if you don't pay attention. And it's a complex task, too. Just remember what it felt like when you started out.

        The problem with this is that it lacks the act of moving one of your bodyparts to trigger the change, whic

      • What!? Ok, you are going to have to explain your reasoning to me. This device works off of EEG technology, which is basically a fancy voltage measurement. To my knowledge the toy isn't exactly pumping signals into your brain. It's my understanding that the "neurofeedback" this toy provides is simply the visual feedback you receive when you make the ball rise. So, it seems to me that unless you are terrified of voltage meters, and possibly batteries, you probably shouldn't run for the hills when this thing
        • by Hojima (1228978)

          Not really. Neurofeedback is a form a facilitated meditation. The majority of the states of the mind can be monitored and influenced via the neocortex. The wavelengths that can occur in the mind are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Theta. Each of these frequencies can occur in the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital. When you're consciously aware of that brain state, which you obviously normally aren't, you can influence it. It's like controlling muscles you never knew you had, however the consequences

          • Well, that's pretty interesting and I didn't know those things. I am not an expert in neuroscience, but the things you cite as potentially damaging (gaining conscious or functional control of one or several brain waves) seem to me to occur quite often in normal humans that never suffer ill effects. The obvious example might be an experienced meditator. You yourself mentioned a highly intelligent polymath. Intense concentration would probably be another brain state that fits the bill. Yet we aren't warned by
      • ACTUALLY, the methods and applications of neurofeedback are widely disputed and science has yet to proof that everything the neurofeedback practitioners tell us is true. Thing is, you're basically telling me that if I concentrate too hard, myy brain gets damaged. Without scientific proof that statement opens up a Box of Pandora. Hm... I probably should quit my job to preserve my higher brainfunctions. 8 hours of concentrating a day can't be good.
  • by sokoban (142301) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:51PM (#27690831) Homepage

    Namely, my hand and my penis. I can guarantee they've provided me with more enjoyment over the past few decades than anything in TFA ever could.

  • Hey McFly! (Score:5, Funny)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:53PM (#27690869) Homepage Journal

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

  • This is gonna cause (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    a lot of nosebleeds :/
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:54PM (#27690895)
    I've convinced plenty of stoned chicks that they can move my penis with their minds.
  • Forget Jedi Beer Pong.. I want to make the bottle of Ol' Janx spirit into my opponent's glass. [hhgproject.org]

    Then maybe I'll learn to fly...
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:00PM (#27691009)
    Cybernetic experiments have proven that a monkey can control an arm through brain electrodes exactly like he could move his own arm. The future of prosthetics and articulated replacement limbs lies in this control scheme for certain and is promised to a bright future. And possibly a league of android sport teams remote controlled by geeks with headsets!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Chrutil (732561)

      Cybernetic experiments have proven that a monkey can control an arm through brain electrodes exactly like he could move his own arm.
      The future of prosthetics and articulated replacement limbs lies in this control scheme for certain and is promised to a bright future.

      Bright future? Oh yeah?
      and who the hell would want a monkey to control their arms?

      • and who the hell would want a monkey to control their arms?

        The various arms of government are already controlled by monkeys. Mechanical cyborg arms don't seem like much of a stretch of the imagination.

    • they should take away his voice-syntho box, and replace it with one of these ping-pong gizmo widgets and tell him that it's his new mouth. I'm betting that Stevie has a working prototype by XMas 2K10 of something that makes this look like a Newton to his iPhone. So to speak.
  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:05PM (#27691111)
    Are these things going to "just work" or is there going to be some sort of "not enough midichlorians" BS problem when I get mine home?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Apparently they perform more or less efficiently depending on how well you are able to "concentrate". TFA notes that lawyers and others in jobs that require a lot of multitasking can't control the ball nearly as well. Single minded types, (e.g. copy editors and IT) tend to do it rather well. I imagine ADHD is a problem for it.

      On the other hand, there is some evidence that behavioral therapy can mitigate ADHD symptoms. Perhaps this "toy" could be therapeutic for users; by incentivizing concentration and

      • Apparently they perform more or less efficiently depending on how well you are able to "concentrate". TFA notes that lawyers and others in jobs that require a lot of multitasking can't control the ball nearly as well. Single minded types, (e.g. copy editors and IT) tend to do it rather well. I imagine ADHD is a problem for it.

        It also seems to really help if you think in Russian while you concentrate.

        • Great! I can't wait for the Firefox mind-control extension, you could just feel lucky and Google will take you to some unnamed website full of whatever you wanted.

      • by wjwlsn (94460)

        I don't know if I have ADHD (I suspect I might), but I do know that I often have trouble quieting my mind enough to start concentrating heavily on something. When I am successful, I can superfocus for extended periods of time... but getting there is difficult, and I'm not able to control it. A toy like this could be useful for someone like me, as a sort of warmup for serious work. It could also be useful as a sort of "meditation trainer".

      • The toy looks like a ball in a tube, I'm sure this will be all the rage with the ADHD crowd..c'mon it's not even shiny! It needs more p'zaz like multi colored leds that flash and strobe in correspondence to how well you control the ball.
    • shh, there are no midichlorians, god dammit!

      the best we can do is try to forget!

    • Well, you still need a brain. Duh. ^^

  • the toys control your brain
  • Nintendo (Score:2, Informative)

    by firegarden7 (808626)
    I would be very interested to see what the creative minds at Nintendo could do with this technology, once it has advanced to a mass consumption level. This could add an interesting element to all games certainly, but games like Brain Age come immediately to mind.
    • Damn. It's already trickier to hold the Wiimote exactly on target for multiple aimed shots (as opposed to analogs, where the initial aiming is more difficult, but keeping the target steady is effortless). Imagine if you also have to do calculus problems in your head to fire...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by russotto (537200)

        Imagine if you also have to do calculus problems in your head to fire...

        The cheat code replaces the function you have to integrate with e^x.

    • I had picked up a game back in the 90's that was based on this. I think it was from a company called "The other 90% technologies" or something like that. It had a sensor that you hooked up to a finger, and you could control a downhill skier. You had to "think hard right", and "relax left".

      • by Happler (895924)
        That is like the anti-NASCAR driver toy. Maybe you can use that old toy to help recovering NASCAR fans.
  • I think the next generation proved conclusively that Toys that use brainwaves are bad for independant thought.

    Anyone have a spare android sitting around? We might need it.

  • While this is cool and all, it kinda feels like cheating. How far are we from a device that can really respond to what you are thinking as opposed to measuring the amount of activity in your brain. Speaking as a programmer ignorant in neuroscience, seems like there is a long chain of events leading up to, say, pressing the Left button on a video game controller. First, the brain receives and processes the input from eyes and ears, then there must be some pretty complicated logic to decide that the right thi
  • I read "Toys Control Your Brain" Look they've already started controlling my brain by hiding words from me! Worst invention ever!
  • Almost 20 years ago my brother and I played pong on an old system with not-quite mind control. But to others it looked like mind control.

    The controllers were lost, so we just used bare wires poked into the ports. One wire in each hand. The tiniest movement would dramatically alter resistance, so we had to remain almost motionless. Not even talking. Even blinking at the wrong time could lose you a point. We got pretty good at playing, but it was strangely exhausting.

    • The Atari Mind controller only measured how much you furrowed your brow. In result, it gave the impression that deep concentration had an effect on the game. In reality, it gave most people headaches. :-P

  • A thought occurred to me, and I do not like it very much.

    What this does, essentially, is take very low level electrical impulses produced by the brain and amplify/convert them into something an external processor can use, for whatever reason.

    But what OTHER uses might be obtained? Can other devices use the data? How is it transmitted? Is the data encrypted? Is it secure?

    Maybe you can see where I'm going with this...maybe not, but it certainly put a new twist on the possible functions of my trusty tinfoil hat

  • I would think devices like these will help a lot of people to focus better and improve their concentration. With all the sensory overload and multitasking thrust on us these days, I think that's probably a good thing. The future applications are very promising, if not revolutionary.
    I saw an article on these gadgets about a month ago, I'm dying to try one or two out. I just wish the Neuroksy/Uncle Milton's Force Trainer gadget didn't have all those dorky Jedi sounds to distract you -hopefully you can turn
  • Levitating a ball by concentrating? This article is a bit behind. Please refer to: http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/ocz_peripherals/nia-neural_impulse_actuator [ocztechnology.com] And for an earlier poster, no these things will never work straight out the box (not for years anyway), because just like teaching your brain to control your muscles, teaching your brain to control the computer is also a long learning process. It requires mental states and processes that, in some cases, are completely foreign to our brains. Pr
  • Stupid headline.

    Try and control a toy without your brain.

    Therefore you control ALL toys with your brain.

    Making article quite lame.

    New Title Submission: "Look Ma! No Hands!"

    End Transmission.

  • Emotiv Epoc (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jac515 (1368285)

    Disclosure: I am in no way associated with Emotiv

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the upcoming Emotiv EPOC:
    http://emotiv.com/corporate/2_0/2_2.htm [emotiv.com].
    This is a sophisticated interface which reads both facial expressions and EEG waves. It enables simple control by thought and is able to measure the intensity of three emotions (boredom, arousal, and frustration I think). It looks amazing. It seems possible that this device could have therapeutic use, or could be used as an aid in, say, meditation. It would

    • The Emotiv Epoc is skating close to vaporware. It was supposed to be out last year but was postponed, there is no current release date, and their site has barely been updated since I first stumbled on it months ago. I think the Emotiv sounds great... if it makes it out of the lab, I am dying to get my hand on one. But they need to start talking.
  • A direct neural interface to post on Twitter has been created by Adam Wilson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    "We originally hooked it to the brain," said Wilson, "but only a very limited selection of messages came out, that appeared to be coming from somewhere else. So we've just gone directly to the penis without the middleman."

    Male humans suffer from having functional bodies trapped with almost completely paralysed minds [today.com]. The penis is an organ used by male humans primarily for thinking and mak

  • I put $10 on the Porn Industry advancing uses faster than anybody else.

    Any takers?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the third release of a "brain-controlled game" type setup I've seen, all involving putting a sensor on the forehead.

    Mid 1980s. Atari planned to release a whole series of sensors (temperature, voltage, etc.) and a head-band sensor thingy, with software to go with it. The plan was to go in through the joystick port, which each had a voltage sensor (0 to 5 volts would read as 0 through 255). I think Atari hit hard times before they were going to release this,

  • A toy that is controlled directly by your brain? Has been around for thousands if not millions of years, and it should be particularly well-known to young, male readers of Slashdot, I suspect. The ultimate in wearable technology, with variable size and fits comfortably into either hand.

  • Avionics are electronics relating to flight, maybe we can call mind/machine interface psionics. Not to be confused with D&D psionics which is a misnomer for psychogenics.

    It's that or Robotechnology/protoculture.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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