In a recent blog, I ranted about the ability of an upcoming computer that can detect human emotion based on facial movements: "An emotionally aware computer doubles as therapist." I knew it wouldn't be long before sensors were developed that read people's thoughts and not just their expressions. Check out this news story: "Device lets thoughts control a computer."
According to the story, "A paralyzed man using a new brain sensor has been able to move a computer cursor, open e-mail, and control a robotic device simply by thinking about doing it... [scientists from Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems in Masschusetts] believe the BrainGate sensor, which involves implanting electrodes in the brain, could offer new hope to people paralyzed by injuries or illnesses."
How exactly does BrainGate work? "The scientists implanted a tiny silicon chip with 100 electrodes into an area of the brain responsible for movement. The activity of the cells was recorded and sent to a computer which translated the commands and enabled the patient to move and control the external device."
How many years do you think it will take before people can buy a helmet or ear piece that allows them to work on the computer just by thinking about what they want to write or tasks they want to perform? It reminds me of a novel I once read about an author who was able to write entire chapters in his sleep. Just imagine all the work you could get done while you're sitting in endless meetings at work - or while your spouse is talking to you at home. However, workaholics might take this technology to a whole new dysfunctional level. There needs to be some down time in order to rejuvenate... plus those over-achievers would make the rest of us look bad! ;-)
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.