Friday, May 16, 2008


A new study by Nortel found that approximately "16% of the global information workforce already 'Hyperconnected,' more significantly, another 36% will be joining them soon!"

By hyperconnected, they mean people who are constantly on their cell phones, texting, twittering, facebooking, blogging, emailing, etc. The hyperconnected are the type of people who "frequently override the little notifier app. that checks [their email] once a minute because an e-mail could have arrived in the intervening 60 seconds." Quote from a recent Time article.

Of course Science Fiction predicted this type of thing way before it actually became possible and usually in a chilling way. If you haven't read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster (yes the guy who wrote A Room with a View and Howard's End but we can forgive him for that), then take a few minutes to do so now. You'll understand why this story has become so relevant in recent years. This is required reading for my Science and Science Fiction students.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Computer - Human Interfaces

There are some really cool input devices out now. No longer are we restricted by a keyboard or even a mouse (I'm too young to remember punch cards but I do remember when mice came out). These range from the everyday tangible iPhone interface to novel game controllers like those for the Wii and guitar hero. What has caught my attention recently are controllers that use thought instead of touch or even voice. For example here is a game controller by Emotiv

In the short term future it is hoped that neural interfaces will be able to control artificial limbs and robotic braces via thought. Actually, this has already been done. For example see this video of a bionic arm.

Here's a video of a monkey making a robot walk via thought.

There has even been an experiment that shows that you can tell what someone is looking at just by reading their brain waves.

The next step would be for non-invasive two-way communication. Where you could not only control someting via thought but also receive feedback. For example if you were playing Halo or just wandering around Second Life wouldn't it be cool if you could feel the rocket launcher you were holding or smell the flowers you just created. A recent Sony patent has proposed a way to do exactly that.