Check out the future of brain-computer interfaces. After we poked fun at the electrode-strewn skullcap you'd need to control a pinball machine's flippers yesterday, a researcher sent us this picture of the next-generation EMG helmet, that doesn't need direct contact.
Researcher Matthias L. Jugel with Thinkberg sent us these pictures of the "next gen" helmet, which he says was sitting right next to the pinball machine we featured yesterday. It doesn't need electrodes going to the brain, because it uses "capacitative measuring" instead. Researchers at the the University of Braunschweig are working on the project along with the Berlin Brain-Computer Interface research consortium.
Is this for real? Well, Jugel did attend a BCI workshop last year. And here's a University of Braunschweig press release (PDF, here's the Google cache) which talks about the use of capacitative measuring to allow brain control without direct contact:
The effect that there are also charge displacements on the body surface due to brain activity is used for the capacitive measurement of the EEG. This change of the charge can in turn affect the charge on a metal plate close to the body. Since this electrical plate does not require direct electrical contact to the body, it can be isolated from the body. The measurement of the capacitive EEG (cEEG) is therefore also possible through the hair. A supersensitive signal amplifier is connected to this plate which amplifies the brain signal and processes it, so it can be displayed on the screen later on. Plate, amplifier and further signal processing electronic systems are integrated in the compact electrodes (30 mm in diameter, approx. the size of a 2 euro coin). The electrode is a bit larger than a standard EEG electrode.
28 electrodes are integrated in one helmet for covering different brain areas. The electrodes can be adjusted mechanically to allow the adaptation to various head shapes.
In any case, controlling appliances, or your computer, using brainwaves is starting to look a lot cooler.