Throw out your touchscreens, kibosh your Kinects: thought-controlled computing is the new new thing. Brain-computer interface technology has been simmering for years, and seems finally ready to bubble out of research labs and into the real world.
Earlier this year, friends of mine at the Toronto art space Site3 built a thought-controlled flamethrower, for fun. (Don’t you hate how it’s always the friends you least want to have the power to project torrents of flame with a flick of their mind who always get it?) Toronto has long been a hub for brain computing, in part because legendary cyborg Steve Mann is a University of Toronto engineering professor. Mann also cofounded the thought-controlled computing consultancy InteraXon, which built the neural installation at this year’s Olympics.