The 'Jedi' mind trick famously used by heroes from the movie Star Wars may have taken a step nearer to reality. Neurosky Inc, a company in San Jose, California, has developed a tool that allows users to control virtual objects using thought power alone. The MindSet, which resembles a set of headphones, uses a single electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor to detect electrical activity in the brain. The sensor is no different to electrodes used by hospitals to measure the brain patterns of patients. But what makes the system different is software, developed by Neurosky, which translates the user’s brainwaves into digital signals that can move objects. Users must first calibrate their thoughts by practising different mental states such as anxiety, tension, relaxation and meditation. With a little practice and concentration, users can control virtual objects and avatars on a computer screen with a good degree of accuracy. Although developed initially for the computer gaming market, the MindSet may have applications as medical therapy for disabled patients and for remotely controlling robots. The MindSet is due for commercial release in late 2008.
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