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Notes on the Acceleration: neural interface headgear - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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October 16th, 2007


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02:40 pm - Notes on the Acceleration: neural interface headgear
He's the latest development in that SF staple, neural interface headgear. This is clearly in the early stages, and along with various similar developments, such as those found in the links to this post I made. In the article I linked to in that post, the prediction was for this sort of tech becoming common in 15 years. While, it's clearly now in the early stages, and I'm betting that the first practical uses won't start being seen for 5 or 6 years, my own prediction is that within 10 years, these things will be required for most new video games and widely used for other applications. Combine neural sensors like these with eyeglasses displays and you have a fully portable system that can do very aspects of VR except touch, taste, and smell. What really fascinates me though is how rapidly our brains adapt to new forms of input and output. I'm betting that within a week or two of constantly using a really good piece of neural interface headgear (IOW, the things that will exist in 5-7 years) much of the process of using it will become completely unconscious, with zooming in on an image requiring no more effort or intent than focusing intently on it and wanting to look at it more closely. That's an amazingly cool idea, and I'm betting many of us will have done this in a decade. I am no longer willing to speculate what consumer electronics will look like in 20-25 years, things are going faster every year.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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Comments:


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From:pompe
Date:October 16th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
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What happened with those corny visors which were supposed to revolutionize gaming about what, ten years ago? Were they just too bulky for comfortably wearing when playing Quake for a pair of hours?
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From:heron61
Date:October 16th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
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I've seen them for sale, but only for watching movies on a portable media player (which pretty much limits their use to airplanes). They are useless for other portable applications (since you can't see anything else) and a large screen TV is as good, so there's not much of a market. Something you can actually use with a portable device would be very different.
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From:pompe
Date:October 16th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I think I'd go for pupil movement instead of mental focus. After all, I guess it would be easier to combine with distractions (and isn't that an ever-present feature of modern life) and make conveniently small.
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From:xuenay
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
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Using mental focus could actually help people learn to concentrate better again, though. The universe knows I could use that...
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From:pompe
Date:October 17th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
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Sure, as long as they aren't tired, have headaches, are burnt-out, or have to deal with other things at the same time... ,-)
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From:xuenay
Date:October 17th, 2007 11:00 am (UTC)
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Point taken.
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From:heron61
Date:October 17th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
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I think that the mental focus is something that would become unconscious fairly rapidly. Also, it doesn't require eye-tracking cameras, so if the interface headgear works out, it seems like the simplest alternative.
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From:pompe
Date:October 17th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
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I think it would depend on the size of the gear. If cameras are easier to miniaturize than neural sensors...
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From:alephnul
Date:October 17th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
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Eye-tracking also runs very quickly into a dead-end. There really isn't very much info you can convey with eye movement(not much more than 4-10 options for inherent motions, more if you are eye-motioning at a target, but I expect that is significantly slower), and you can't do it while you are doing anything else that requires your visual focus (can't drive and do it, can't read and do it). If imagined action sensing continues to improve in quality, the potential is pretty much unlimited. Imagining typing as a method for doing text entry seems like the grail for this method (which I will bet is at least 20 years off for portable consumer electronics).
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From:heron61
Date:October 17th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
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Imagining typing as a method for doing text entry seems like the grail for this method

Most definitely, it seems an excellent answer, and the step after that could be simply imagining sentences that are typed.

(which I will bet is at least 20 years off for portable consumer electronics).

I'm far from certain about this. I'd more say 10-15 years for thought typing. OTOH, 20 years for direct thought to text seems about right, at which point typing (thankfully) dies off as a skill.
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From:diluvian
Date:October 17th, 2007 08:37 am (UTC)
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Guess I'm much more skeptical about that amount of resources that will be focused in this area. Over the next 10-20 years I think there are going to be far more pressing issues than pushing the envelope of brain-hardware interaction, especially when it comes to CE applications.

I also think we are just beginning to understand how such an interface would work, let alone exploit it in such a complex manner.

Just my two cents.


-Robert
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From:heron61
Date:October 17th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC)
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Given both the advantages to the military (both for pilots in exceptionally responsive high-g fighter planes, and people piloting drones) and also the impressive amounts of money spent on developing new video game tech, I can actually see rather vast sums being spent on this particular tech.
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From:pompe
Date:October 17th, 2007 10:44 am (UTC)
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I think the relevant question, aside from the eventual portability of such headgear, is how distracting it would be. Remember a few years ago when everyone with a cell phone used hands-free? Considerably less common today, at least here. Modern life is multitasking for our brains, I'm highly suspicious of any solution which requires us to focus _more_ and _exclusively_ on one thing, I think modern and post-modern life is heading in the exact opposite direction.

I mean, I type this while listening/semi-watching a TV debate and on-off speaking in my cell phone while drinking tea and having a print job going.
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From:heron61
Date:October 17th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
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Considerably less common today, at least here.

If anything, it's more common here than it was before. Most people still use them normally, but it's clear there's a population of frequent cell users who use hand's free cellphones as a way of life.
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From:alephnul
Date:October 18th, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
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10 years ago, how far off did you think e-paper was? Do you count what currently exists as meeting your expectations for what we would have after a decade? They don't meet mine.

The surprising thing is that we disagree by less than a factor of two. We don't tend to agree that closely on how far off any particular tech is.

Actually, for non-touch typists, I'm not sure that imagining typing would be any easier to read than imagining seeing letters. I know I don't have a strong physical sensation of what "type the letter A" feels like.
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From:heron61
Date:October 18th, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
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I could see it involving either imagining individual letters or imagining typing individual letters, I don't know which would work better, and the answer might well depend upon the individual, if the device (as I presume it will be) can be trained to match input with output. The eventual goal will be turning imagined thought instantly into typed sentences, but that's asking a great deal, and is effectively the same thing as electronic telepathy. I'm certain its possible, and will be done not terribly far in the future, but I'm also most definitely not expecting it anytime in the next 20 years.

Of course, we might have something very similar considerably sooner if someone can figure out how to work with subvocalization as input. I have no idea how research on this is going, I hear it mentioned occasionally, but a quick search only turned up this mention, which merely shows that someone is working on it. However, success will require both good input hardware and an impressive speech recognition system. The later is clearly quite difficult, although progress is definitely being made. Perhaps we will have excellent speech recognition in 10-15 years, it seems possible. Maybe in 15 years the latest input accessor will be some sort of odd throat mike.

In any case, we'll be over around 8:00 PM tomorrow for Sarah Jane Adventures. I shall have both a normal and an odd desert.

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