This post is by VK Media
In 1982, Tan Le left Vietnam in a fishing boat, together with her sister, mother and grandmother, to start a new life in Australia. Fast forward to 1998 and Le was hailed Young Australian of the Year and named one of Australia’s 30 Most Successful Women Under 30. But these achievements just scratch the surface of this remarkable woman.
Tan Le is the co-founder of Emotiv; an electronics company that specializes in electroencephalography (EEG) headsets and technology. The technology allows researchers to read the brainwaves of individuals through electrodes and has been used to diagnose conditions such as epilepsy and brain death. Ten years ago, EEG technology was restricted to hospitals and laboratories and used primarily for medical and research purposes but Emotiv produces affordable headsets for the consumer in order to advance innovation in a variety of areas.
The sleek designs of the headsets are a far cry away from the old school versions with hundreds of sensors and electrodes, and it’s this ergonomic design that makes them much accessible to the average Joe. Whilst these headsets are crucial to psychological and medical research, they can also be harnessed for entertainment and creativity. The concept of ‘mind control’ is something we might associate with science fiction films like Men in Black and The Matrix, but Emotiv’s EEG headsets have successfully been used to play video games and even create music, purely by using the power of the brain.
Our brains emit different brainwaves when we think certain thoughts or emotions and do certain actions. When an individual wears a headset and watches a video game on a screen, simply thinking about actions such as ‘make the car go forward’ or ‘increase speed’ are interpreted in real time. Whilst there are of course limitations with what the headsets can interpret at the moment, the idea that one day people will be able to control things using the power of the mind is very much a possibility and for people with paralysis it would be a life changing event.
EEG technology can also reveal the inner working of our brains. The data from the headsets is often visualized into brain maps to see exactly which parts of the brain are working. This type of research is often used by psychologists to see how people react in certain situations. Are they feeling frustrated? Do they show high levels of engagement? These were some of the questions that leading sports psychologist James Hazlett asked when the EEG headsets were used in a recent study to reveal the differences between amateurs and professionals playing a competitive game of poker. The results revealed key differences between the groups and supported other evidence that shows controlling emotion is a crucial factor in succeeding in competition.
So what does the future hold for EEG technology? Emotiv’s technology has the potential in a variety of industries outside of medical research, including defense, robotics, art and market research. Whether there’ll come a time when we’ll only use our minds to drive a car, write an email or play video games is something we’ll have to wait and see!
What technology would you like to see in the future? Join the discussion in the comments below.