Scientists at the University of Malta have created music software that allows its users to play tracks, fast forward, and adjust volume simply by looking at the screen! Wearing electrode-studded caps, users are fed controlled stimuli: in this case, flickering boxes on a screen. As the frequency of flickering changes, so too does each brain’s electrical response pattern. The subsequent electrical patterns their brains elicit are recorded and assigned a task like play, pause, or fast forward and the software is programmed to take those actions when their respective patterns are detected.
As amazing as this might appear as a stunt, brain-reading as a whole is still not without it’s share of limitations. However, the implications and potential future applications of this are still exciting to consider. From Singularity Hub:
The brain-reading apparatus is cumbersome (if you think Google Glass unsightly, imagine Sergey Brin in an EEG cap), and the readings are still fairly low resolution. Greater control would require more detailed readings.
The larger concept, however, is viable. And for folks who’ve lost the ability to physically control their environment—quadriplegics or sufferers of ALS (Steven Hawking, for example) and locked-in syndrome—such methods might offer a non-invasive way to regain some sense of control, freedom, and easier communication with the world.