New Mobile Device Reads Your Thoughts

When attached to a headband, a new mobile device the size of a matchbox can pick up the electricity signals of your thoughts. Called iBrain, it is currently being tested on Stephen Hawking. 

What's the Latest Development?


A new mobile device called the iBrain can read the electrical signals produced by your brain when it thinks. The device's makers want to decode those signals into human language and use the device to monitor patients with neurological disorders, which produce different thought patterns, as well as other diseases like sleep apnea, depression and autism. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking is currently testing the iBrain to see if it might help him communicate better than his current method, which uses infrared glasses to pick up his movement in his cheek. 

What's the Big Idea?

Using mobile devices to monitor patients with conditions that affect the brain would help streamline their medical treatment and reduce medical costs by taking the place of some visits to the doctor. Medical companies are using devices like the iBrain to test the effectiveness of experimental neurological drugs in clinical trials. Other companies already sell the technology directly to consumers, which use electrodes to monitor and graph sleep patterns over time. For Hawking, much work remains before his brain waves are interfaced with devices that allow him to communicate. 

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.