Controlling devices using just our brain has always been a sci-fi fantasy staple, something which could only be possible in the distant future. That might not be the case anymore thanks to the emergence of a startup called CTRL-Labs which has ambitious plans to make mind control a commercial reality by 2018.
CTRL-Labs started out in 2015 and specializes in Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) technology. Its current prototype is a simple terrycloth stretch band embedded with microchips and electrodes which has to be worn on both arms. The armband intercepts the signals sent from the brain to the fingers and propels it across to a computer.
As detailed in a Wired report, CTRL-Labs CEO Thomas Reardon demonstrated the technology’s potential by typing words on thin air as if at a keyboard. The text then appeared on the monitor as if by magic. In another demo, co-founder Patrick Kaifosh played Asteroids on his iPhone without touching the screen even once, using tiny finger movements to do the work for him.
The brain actually sends thousands of neuron signals out and researchers have had a hard time pinning down which one controls what and how to train it in the ways of BMI. CTRL-Labs has taken a different approach by concentrating on specific signals which handle movement as they travel through a person’s spinal column.
CTRL-Labs is planning on unveiling a slimmer watch strap-like device in 2018 for early adopters. The tech could have various applications, from smartphone owners who want to fire off a text without having to use their hands to VR gamers eager to ditch their controllers for a more immersive experience.
There are also the millions of people with health problems who would benefit from having their thoughts translated into actions. CTRL-Labs’ not the only one in the BMI game of course, with big names like Elon Musk and Facebook also heavily invested in the sector.