Repost from CogSci (posted in wrong forum).

You may be aware that neuro-signal-capturers (I'll leave out specific ones to make it not seem like an ad) have become much cheaper and many are available with a SDK. I think this will open up a huge gateway for much more intimate human interfaces. However, I am stumped at the practical uses and whether the human controlled interfaces will be much better to the user. A mind controlled TV remote (for hospital patients) came as an idea, but once again, I don't think it has much practical use. Could any point me to any practical uses of this device? I am sorry if I am posting in the wrong section or this is a very opened-ended question. Thanks for any input.

EDIT: I am talking about devices like OCZ Nia.

EDIT2: More specific question. Are there any applications for such a device where there isn't already a device that accomplishes such a task with much less effort and lower learning curve? In my case, the hospital TV remove (disregarding the possibility where the patient might be completely immobilized), the already existing remove suits the task very well since it is intuitive, very easy to use and has a low learning curve.

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    I think your question is too broad for a single "answer". Did you have any specific applications of this technology in mind that you're wondering about? This kind of technology would certainly be useful for addressing accessibility issues, but if you're looking for a big list of examples of what people use these things for I'm not sure this is the best place to ask. Some more clarity and direction to your question would be helpful. – Meredith Emily Mar 26 '13 at 14:13
  • I don't think this is a good fit for Stack Exchange sites in general I'm afraid. As mentioned in the FAQ "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." This question is not really practical or answerable, it's more discussion-y. A device such as OCZ Nia could well feature in the answer to a different question in the future because such a device could be a solution to a particular problem, but you don't really have an actual question that can be answered currently. – JonW Mar 26 '13 at 14:37
  • @JonW, yeah, it seems I can't get help on the entire network of Stack, none seem appropriate. Would it be possible for you to recommend a site where such a question would be appropriate? – jn1kk Mar 26 '13 at 14:40

So, I did not get what you meant by

However, I am stumped at the practical uses and whether the human controlled interfaces will be much better to the user.

Did you mean hands-free/non-traditional controls for interfaces?

Moving on, the product you mentioned, OCZ Nia, uses eye-movement, facial muscles and brain waves to translate the signals into controls. Now, if you are looking for applications using these input mechanisms outside the disabled user base, you can see many products out there which are using one, if not all, of these input mechanisms.

The Myo uses your arm muscle movements and converts them input inputs for whatever purpose you want/care to do. https://getmyo.com

The Zeo headband is used to monitor brainwave and recognize your sleep patterns. But then, you can use the brain waves as inputs to program the zeo to set off alarms, etc. to change your sleep patterns (get more rem sleep,etc.)

For interfaces guided by eyes, the gaze seems to be doing that. http://www.tobii.com/en/gaze-interaction/global/

Head movement as input- Oculus VR http://www.oculusvr.com/ uses the head movement to move the display in an AR movement.

So, now we can see that those interactions, individually are quite powerful and have huge potential, but are not yet polished enough (atleast most of them) for daily full time usage. If you look at something like the Nia, you need to think how you're combining all these interactions in a single offering. You are using your eyes as a pointer and clicker, your face as a sort-of function/macro input keyboard and your brain waves as triggers.

Medical domain can surely make good use of these different input options for patients. Similarly, military and other such professions, where it is beneficial to have hands free interactions, it comes in very handy (rather than pressing buttons on your device, you think of calling(?) and maybe do a couple gestures with your face and you're done, all the while holding onto your weapons,etc. Gaming is another arena. The possibilites are quite humongous. It is upto you, as a creator, to see which area will be your niche and where you can make the biggest disruption in the near future.

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The problem with these interfaces is that require at least some and more often a lot of practice. Thinking 'left' or 'right' results in a very different pattern of brain activity for different people. So before using such an interface there has to be some calibration.

This is no problem if the reward is big. For example people with locked in syndrome have used these kinds of interfaces to select letters and thus they have been given a means of communication. Also these interfaces can be used to control artificial limbs.

But the patterns of brain activity detected are very global, so differentiating a signal for left and right is quite easy, but thinking 'change the channel to channel 12' is almost impossible to detect.

So in summary most tasks are a lot harder to do with these kinds of interfaces than they would have been otherwise. So unless you're not able to perform the tasks that most healthy people are able to perform a brain machine interface is currently not an efficient option.

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  • I was thinking more like up, down for channels, higher, lower for sound, on, off for TV operation, for starters. But thank you for your input. – jn1kk Mar 26 '13 at 15:19

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