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BBC “mind-control” iPlayer

The BBC has revealed details of an experiment it conducted allowing people to control TVs using nothing but their brainwaves. In collaboration with tech company This Place, the corporation claims to have developed a way people can select programmes using a cheap, brainwave-reading headset.

The headset works with an experimental version of the BBC’s iPlayer on-demand platform allowing users to turn on and operate the app by concentrating or relaxing their minds.

“It’s an internal prototype designed to give our programme makers, technologists and other users an idea of how this technology might be used in future,” said Cyrus Saihan, head of business development for the BBC’s Digital division.

In the first trial, 10 BBC staff tried out the app and were able to launch iPlayer and start viewing a programme via the headset, he said.

This type of technology could be used to help people with a broad range of disabilities who cannot use traditional TV remote controls very easily, Saihan believes.

The technology behind the experiment

The electroencephalography (EEG) brainwave reading headset has one small sensor that rests on a user’s forehead and another on a clip that attaches to the ear.
These sensors measure electrical activity in the brain. In the case of this experimental app, a user can select either ‘concentration’ or ‘meditation’ as the brain control mechanism. If the user selects ‘concentration’, the headset and app monitors their level of concentration and a ‘volume bar’ of brainwaves is displayed on the screen, to visually illustrate their level of concentration.
Once a certain threshold of concentration has been reached, a message is sent to the tablet to perform an action – in this case, to initially launch BBC iPlayer.

 




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