What's the Latest Development?
While technology companies once focused on simple biological gestures to operate electronic products—a wink, for example, may tell your Internet-connected glasses to snap a picture—today they are working to harness the power of the mind to alter physical realities. "In a couple of years, we could be turning on the lights at home just by thinking about it, or sending an e-mail from our smartphone without even pulling the device from our pocket. Farther into the future, your robot assistant will appear by your side with a glass of lemonade simply because it knows you are thirsty."
What's the Big Idea?
As technology continues to progress, new challenges will confront researchers. How will brain-reading devices, for example, distinguish between an intention to search the Internet for something and a random thought about that something? "Just because I’m thinking about a steak medium-rare at a restaurant doesn't mean I actually want that for dinner," said Dr. John Donoghue, a neuroscientist and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science. "To be truly useful, brain-computer interfaces will need to know if you're just thinking about that steak or really want to order it."
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