What's the Latest Development?

More than 50 disabled people have been test-driving a new brain-computer interface (B.C.I.) that gives them greater control than ever before over their (modern) daily lives. "The system was developed as part of a pan-European project called Smart Homes for All, and is the first time the latest B.C.I. technology has been combined with smart-home technology and online gaming. It uses electroencephalograph (EEG) caps to pick up brain signals, which it translates into commands that are relayed to controllers in the building, or to navigate and communicate within Second Life and Twitter."

What's the Big Idea?

While the new B.C.I. has been used primarily to allow users to interact with their Second Life avatars, it can be used to give people control over their real-world environment too: opening and closing doors, controlling the TV, lights, thermostat and intercom, answering the phone, or even publishing Twitter posts. The interface's maker G.Tec says it is working on adding wheelchair control as a function, to help give users more mobility. "The point is that they can start making their own decisions," says Guenter Edlinger, G.Tec's C.E.O.