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Friday fun for the IT crowd: Computer experiments straight from sci-fi

December 05, 2014
By Lisa Dare

Snooping on the voice in your head?

Scientists have created software that can listen to and transcribe your brain’s inner voice. In the experiment, subjects read specific words scrolling onscreen while scientists monitored their recorded their brain activity. The brain activity was converted into a visual diagram showing which neurons fired for which parts of speech, and researchers then used it to create a personal algorithm to decode each participant's thoughts. That algorithm successfully allowed them to reconstruct many words during other readings.

Scientists hope the technology and algorithm will eventually allow them to aid people who are unable to speak due to problems such as a stroke or paralysis.  

In other news that affects the rest of us, Pizza Hut is testing an eye-tracking app that lets you order pizza telepathically. The app measures where your eyes linger to let the app know which toppings you’d subconsciously like to order for your pizza. Of course, desiring double pepperoni does not mean you should actually order it, no matter how much it makes your mouth water (and eyeballs linger).

Protecting your smartphone from … you

Apple was approved for a patent that might allow the phone to change its own trajectory to prevent a damaging fall. It will employ sensors to determine when it’s falling, then either use the vibration motor (used in place of a ringtone) or eject its battery to change its path, helping the phone land on its back. The company is apparently experimenting with “air foils” to aid this outcome as well.

Computer-enabled ESP

A team of scientists created a “direct brain-to-brain interface” that allowed subjects to cooperatively control a computer game—and send an impulse that controlled the other’s movements in real time. In the experiment, one of the subjects could see the computer game and decide when to shoot a rocket, but could not touch the controllers. The subject who could see sent thought signals to the one with the controller, who was one mile away and had no view of the game. The subject with no view received a signal to move his wrist, and did so involuntarily based on the sender’s brain signals. The experiment proved successful, with the connected pairs performing far better in the game than the control groups, who all scored zero.

Read about other interesting technology trends in Friday fun for the IT crowd: The dark side of the Web

Or check out the tech gifts IT workers really want. (Make sure to share it with your boss in time for the holidays).

Lisa Dare is a marketing writer for TEKsystems who enjoys learning about IT from some of the smartest folks in tech. She frequently blogs about IT career advice and the lighter side of tech, and on her off days loves to kayak and play with her toddler son.

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