7 Ways Your Body Is Turning into a Joystick
In a few years, people will look back at keyboards and mice the way we look now at rotary phones and fax machines. (“Can you believe people actually had to click a button to make something happen onscreen?”)
Soon enough, you’ll be able to control devices using different body parts, if that would make for a better experience. Some of this technology is already commercially available; the rest may be coming to a body near you over the next couple of years. Here’s a quick head-to-toe tour:
1. Your brain
For decades, pricey headgear that measured brain activity has been used to help people with disabilities and to train athletes; now it’s gone mainstream. From the Muse headband to NeuroSky’s MindWave headset, low-cost wearable EEG monitors can measure your brain waves and respond to them — letting you turn devices on and off, manipulate objects inside games, or control the environment based on your mood. You know what they say: No brain, no game.
Necomimi’s $100 Brainwave Cat Ears display your mood by reading your EEG. Yahoo Tech columnist Rob Pegoraro bravely models what happiness looks like. (Yahoo Tech)
2. Your eyes
Eye-tracking technology has already gone mainstream. The Smart Scroll tech built into Samsung’s Galaxy S5 phone determines where you’re looking and scrolls the screen automatically as you look down. At last May’s NeuroGaming conference, Sony demonstrated eye-tracking tech that goes even further. Not only does the tracker in the game Infamous: Second Son follow your gaze, but it also lets you throw fireballs with your eyes. In this case, looks actually can kill.
3. Your ears
Researchers in Japan are working on an “earclip wearable PC” that lets you control devices by winking, raising your eyebrow, or clucking your tongue. This hearing aid on steroids measures the tiny changes inside your ear when you move your facial muscles and then uses them to control your mobile phone. Listen up: The first commercial versions are due out by April 2016.
4. Your hands
Game devices like the Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect brought gesture control to our living rooms. Now we’re seeing it in devices as small as the Amazon Fire Phone, which responds differently based on how you tilt the handset. Or strap Thalmic Labs’ $149 Myo to your forearm and use the electromyography (EMG) pulses from your muscles to control everything from music players and toys to computers and game consoles.