Hitachi Developing Brain-Powered Remote Control
Jan 5, 2010
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Hitachi Ltd. has developed a prototype remote control that allows users to operate electronic devices telepathically -- simply willing the television channel to change or the air-conditioning to turn on -- according to a report. Hitachi's "brain-machine interface system" features a headset that measures slight changes in blood flow in the brain by scanning it with near-infrared rays, business daily Nikkei reported. The brain signals are sent by optical fiber to a remote control, which is prompted by significant brain activity to beam infrared signals to a TV or other device. Blood flow increases considerably with mental activity, the report said.

In a recent experiment, Hitachi scientists succeeded in using the new system to switch on and off an air conditioner and a small robot. It took 10 to 20 seconds of thinking to fire up the devices, the report said.

The technology for such a device had existed for some time, but Hitachi's system weighs about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), while other such systems are the size of a refrigerator, Nikkei said. Other Japanese firms, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have also been working on brain-machine interface technology, it said.

Hitachi aims to commercialize the system in 3 to 4 years, targeting it at physically disabled people who cannot operate remote controls, the report said.


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