Avatar-human mind meld announced

Earlier this week came the revelation that IBM and Linden Lab are working on creating universal avatar standards that will enable our cartoon stand-ins to shuffle unimpeded from one virtual world to the next. You would not think the news could possibly get any better than that. But it has. Researchers at the Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory in Japan have succeeded in creating a brain-computer interface (BCI) that enables people to use their thoughts to control the movements of their Second Life avatars:

The system consists of a headpiece equipped with electrodes that monitor activity in three areas of the motor cortex (the region of the brain involved in controlling the movement of the arms and legs). An EEG machine reads and graphs the data and relays it to the BCI, where a brain wave analysis algorithm interprets the user’s imagined movements. A keyboard emulator then converts this data into a signal and relays it to Second Life, causing the on-screen avatar to move. In this way, the user can exercise real-time control over the avatar in the 3D virtual world without moving a muscle.

And here’s the video to prove it.

It’s official. There is no longer any reason to get out of bed in the morning.

2 thoughts on “Avatar-human mind meld announced

  1. SallyF

    The system seems to have a lot of jitter to it. Our hand/eye/brain coordination is rather optimized for control, but the “brain wave analysis algorithm” is probably still in a primitive state. For the viewer of the video: two screens are shown: on the left the Second Life view and on the right, some kind of brain wave display is scrolling by. It is cool, but it has a long ways to go and has some of the same limitations as handwriting recognition and speech recognition. The user seems to only being directing the avatar to move forward/back and turn left/right rather than more fully mapping the movements of articulated arms and legs. I would expect that this research is benefiting from progress in high-tech prosthetic devices that are driven by a BCI. I only caught a spot on the news, but I think what I saw were prosthetics were the electrodes were attached to the stump rather than EEG electrodes on the head. I am not sure if that counts as EMG(Electromyography), but I imagine that the signals are simpler (and maybe less jittery) at that point.

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