The next generation of control interfaces may be based on the human brain, using our neural signals and impulses to control vehicles, computer operating systems and even interactions on the internet.

The human brain is one of the most powerful and complex computers in the world, far beyond what humans have been able to create. While advancements have meant we’ve been able to create stronger and faster equipment, creating a computer that mirrors the complexity of the human brain has proved impossible.

While it may sound like science-fiction, the technologies are already being developed.

Landing a plane with your brain

Scientists based at the Technische Universität München and the TU Berlin have managed to create a control system that allows pilots to land a plane without ever touching a control stick – with a high degree of accuracy.

Brainwaves are measured using electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes connected to a cap. The scientists have developed an algorithm that reads these waves, and deciphers electrical ‘potentials’. The program can then convert these potentials into controls for the aircraft.

“A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people,” explains aerospace engineer and project lead Tim Fricke.

“One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees.”

Looking further with cybernetic binoculars

If controlling an aircraft wasn’t enough, research organisation DARPA has developed (and field tested) a set of next generation binoculars that use brain signals to detect distant threats.

The headset uses an EEG headset to record brain signals, and then sends the information to an external computer system. A separate camera also records a wide field of view, logging the information to the same computer. The data is then compiled to generate a reading of any potential threats in the area.

These systems are just the beginning of brain- control interfaces, and speak to the power of using brain signals to control next generation computers and even vehicles.

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