Along with the figure skating, ice hockey and snowboarding, another event will compete for attention at the Winter Olympics in Canada this month.
A Canadian company has created what it calls the “largest thought-controlled computing installation.” It’s an experiment that lets visitors to the Olympics use their brainwaves to control the lights at three major landmarks in Canada, including Niagara Falls.
“When people put on the headsets and find themselves increasing the brightness of the lights by just thinking about it, you can almost see their brains explode,” says Trevor Coleman, chief operating officer for InteraXon, the company that has created this installation.
As consumers get more comfortable with going beyond the keyboard and the mouse to interact with their computers, companies are looking for alternate ways to make the experience better. Already, touch and voice recognition have become a major part of the user interface in smartphones, and harnessing brainwaves or other biological data is slowly emerging as a third option, especially in gaming. Companies such as NeuroSky offer headphones that promise to translate the gamer’s brainwaves into action on screen. A biometrics company called Innerscope is helping Wired host a geeked-out Super Bowl party. And even Microsoft is working on alternate forms of input; its Project Natal promises to add gesture recognition to Xbox 360 games later this year.