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Jedi Mind Tricks with Tan Le

Tan Le is the founder and CEO of Emotiv Lifesciences, a bioinformatics company inventing and innovating technology to do amazing things with the human brain. Since an early age, she has been fascinated with the brain, which is for her one of the most amazing machines we have at our disposition. Having failed to achieve true Jedi status (moving objects at distance didn’t work!) Tan Le look for other solutions…

 

In the last few years, man’s merging with machines has become very trendy: Bio-sensing devices that observe, measure and record activities and experiences have gone to market and their applications are impressive; GPS, wearable devices and smartphone accelerator can already give us massive amounts of information about our movements, health and even mood. For Tan Le, this is already a big leap. But the real potential is not yet realised. Things will get really interesting when we can merge technology with the human brain.

 

For Le, one of the obstacles to bringing brain-linked-technology to market is the level of expertise required to just put EEG sensoring equipment on the subject. EEGs help us to better understand what is happening in the brain and that is the first step towards the kinds of goals Le has. EEG machines have traditionally been limited to qualified (hospital) personnel using expensive bespoke equipment. Enter Emotiv Lifesciences and Tan Le’s easy-use wearable EEG…

 

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In a stunning display of true keynote awesomeness, we moved to a live demo (or parlour trick?). Learning Geek @CammyBean took to the stage and was hooked up to Tan Le’s EEG. First she looked at a video of a flower blooming and tried to focus on what was happening. Then came the amazing part: She thought about the flower blooming and made the video advance by itself.

 

 

Tan Le’s mission is to democratise EEG devices, making them available and easy-to-use for normal people. Does this mean we are really going to get our hands on technology giving us some kind of FireFox-style-ability to control objects (fighter planes?) with our minds? In short, it is clear to me today that the answer is “yes”.

 

During the session, we saw examples of things that are already happening with wearable EEG devices:

  • In Australia, the RAC has created an attention powered car. The driver is hooked up the EEG. If attention is good, the car moves normally; if it’s poor, it slows down. At the moment, this is being done to sensitise drivers to the importance of attention. But Tan Le’s organisation is already collaborating with Volkswagen to create mind-driven cars.
  • In supermarkets, studies are being done to see how consumers give their attention and focus when shopping. Where and how we look at things will give marketeers a lot of data to improve the shopping experience. (Yes, more marketing!)
  • In classroom environments, we can see how we focus on what is being learnt, how mood affects recall and use this information to create strategies to improve learning.
  • Personally, I was moved to tears by the “DJ Fresh MindTunes” work. People with physical disabilities were hooked up to the EEG machine and created music using thought. Watch the video… it is really outstanding. What a beautiful gift to the world!

 

…and guess what? Tan Le says that we will be able to get our hands on a wearable brain-monitor for $300 in a near future. How long will it be before we get an app for that device that lets us do some of the amazing Jedi mind tricks we have seen today?

 

Bring on the revolution!

 

Other references:

 

Thanks for reading!

@dan_steer