Toy Connects Mind to Virtual World

Loraine Lawson

Mainstream press just don't get technology. I read their headlines and think, "Wow. That's neat. Useless. But neat."


Then I read the rest of the story and find there's much more to the technology than the hyped headline and spiffy introduction.


Take, for instance, this story from MSNBC. The headline, "Mind-reading toys could revolutionize play," piqued my curiosity, mostly because I'm a bit paranoid about mind-reading, but also because I'm a mother.


Ostensibly, it's about using wireless brain-wave sensors for gaming. The product is basically a bunch of EEG sensors attached to a headset that could retail for as low as $20. Unlike traditional EEG sensors, they don't require a technician or gel to apply. That's really key, as those of us who have had to wash electrode gel out of our hair know.


While this piece focuses on how gamers can use the technology, if you keep reading, you'll learn there are broader applications.


For instance, these sensors could be used to teach relaxation techniques and improve focus for real-life tasks. Using the sensor headset, you could use your mind to control a video character, the article says. But couldn't it also be used to remote control a robot? A mechanical arm?


Could it also be used to improve focus at work? Or, in a more sinister twist, monitor focus at work?


One start-up is set apply the technology to the medical field. CyberLearning Technology LLC sells its SmartBrain Technologies system for about $600. It can be used with the Playstation, PS2 and the Xbox. CyberLearning's founders thinks doctors, thereapists and parents could use the technology to work with autistic children and teens.


CyberLearning's founders say the technology could be used to help teens with behavorial problems. It's interesting to note, however, that parents and other buyers are using it to improve focus or their golf games.

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