Over the past week I had one of those moments when I pause in astonishment at how incredible the human race can be. I heard a news snippet on the radio about how the Faculty of Engineering and IT at Sydney’s UTS (Unversity of Technology) have developed a proto-type wheel chair operated via mind control. Its the stuff of science fiction coming to life before our very eyes. The machine affectionately named TIM ( Thought controlled intelligent machine) is run by a headband containing sensors that reads the user’s brain waves ( or ectroencephalogram (EEG) signals – for the more technically minded). The thought patterns are then converted to instructions and which are wirelessly conveyed to the chair. If this is not amazing enough, the chair is equipped with sensors enabling it to operate autonomously for short periods. The device should be ready for market within 5 years and hopefully will improve the lives of the 700,000 Australians currently living with a severe disability.
While no-one would argue that the disabled shouldn’t get first dibs on this ground breaking technology, why stop there? Why should the wheelies have all the fun? A company called Emotiv Systems Inc based in San Francisco (where else?) has come up with a head set that uses brain computer interface technology (BCI) to manoeuvre characters in computer games with thoughts rather than hand held controls. That’s geeks for you! They come up with a dazzlingly brilliant technology and apply to enhance their personal gaming experience. Meanwhile researchers at the Brown University Rhode Island have developed a robotic arm that works through mind control. This has wonderful implications for the disabled but I’m betting some geek has put it to good use playing handball. Its anticipated that this type of technology will eventually filter through to daily life. Basically if its electronic you’ll be able to operate it with your brain waves leaving the phrase “look Mum, no hands!” completely redundant.
Can you imagine what this will mean for Mum’s 20 to 30 years down the track? No longer will kids be bored senseless by catch cries like ” I cant do two things at once” and “I’ve only got two hands”. As women are skilled at multi-tasking we’ll be able to do several household chores simultaneously. I have visions of immaculately dressed Mums preparing the evening meal whilst the wired up pram rolls itself up and down to settle the agitated baby. At the same time the disembodied vacuum is whisking away any mess that hits the floor.
In literally a blink of an eye the washing machine is turned on and in anticipation of the toddler wanting a juice the refrigerator door opens. In this perfect utopia every bathroom will be equipped with a robot cleaning arm making scrubbing the tub and toilet bowl literally like a dream.
Then there’s the car seat fitted with sensors. Its smart technology seat belt wraps itself around the squirming child whilst you hold her in place. This could halve the time it takes for the family to leave the house in the morning. To top things off when its time for that well earned break the kettle will boil itself for your cuppa tea. Bliss!
There must be thousands of ways this type of technology can make futurama mamas lives easier. Of course women will get the most benefit from it. Arguably the only two things a man can mentally focus on at once is drinking a beer whilst watching the football. Still that will signal technological nirvana to the boys.
What kind of mind control devices would you like to see in the house of tomorrow?
Happy Future Shock