Nudging closer to the Machine/Brain interface

There’s been a fair bit of this in the last couple of months… prosthetics controlled by thought etc. There was recently a load of excitement and fuss to do with brain-to-speech synthesis… which may or may not be tempered by the fact that it only did 3 vowel sounds, and required a bit of implanted hardware that neurons grew around. Oooh. Aaaah. etc.

Still that is a bit like saying “yea, my dog plays chess but he’s not that good”. A hello-world is a hello-world. The difference between 0 and 1 is MASSIVELY different to the difference between 1 and 2.

I went on about this sort of thing in Feb last year. There’s an Open-EEG community… or was… but here’s the thing: if you don’t have a blog, no one can tell if you’re alive. I guess I could join the mailing list, but I’m already overwhelmed with mailing lists, and I’m only on about 5.

Anyway… a couple of things turned up recently that are partly related.

Waking you up when you’re sleeping lightly thing for iPhone – although according to wikipedia, there is some dispute as to whether being woken when you’re sleeping lightly is the best way to be woken… personally, I’d tend to go for something like this

But anyway, I saw the waking up watch/iphone thing a while back and had a spot of bother finding it again… and found that there are actually loads of such devices out there – the sensory bit is called an Actigraph – which sounds a bit snake-oily to me… like any advert that contains the words “scientifically proven”. As far as I can gather, all it is is a piezo, which measures movement… often filtering out everything except the 2-3 hz range… which is about the speed of a normal, common, every-day case of DTs. How that correlates to sleep, I couldn’t say, but that is apparently what’s being measured.

I think though the real value of this isn’t being woken up when you’re sleeping lightly, but the fact that it forces you to pay attention to sleep over a long period – keeping a sleep diary etc… which will probably make you aware of just how much caffeine, alcohol, stress etc are messing you about.

It would be quite cool to have something like a system-monitor for your body/mind going all the time. So rather than being pulled this way and that by laziness, gluttony and random whims, you do actually get to run yourself like a well tuned machine. Do what works, rather than what feels good in the short term.

Off at a tangent – or something that comes in at a different level, something that also turned up recently is this pedometer that has an LED flower on the side of it.


and if you don’t do loads of walking, it dies.

Utter genius – it’s a tamagotchi that makes you do something you want to do, but can’t be arsed with.

Captology” – capitalising on people’s amazing powers of nurturing and anthropomorphism etc. This is kindof what I was on about in my open-source energy monitor idea – setting up the interface so it’s kindof pavlovian… but this is so much better.

There are so many applications of this – turn your iPhone into a Chumby-like creature that you have to look after. Like having a familiar… or one of those daemons off Golden Compass. iPhone as pet. Brilliant.



2 Comments » for Nudging closer to the Machine/Brain interface
  1. Brilliant stuff. The brutal alarm clock got me laughing.

    When I look at the EPOC headset I see where all this is going. Right into our heads at some point. Won’t have to bother with all this messy typing and languaging business then.

    Happy New Year, Nick!

  2. admin says:

    It’d be quite an interesting thing to try – the first thing that springs to mind though is that voice-to-text hasn’t really caught on because it’s quite difficult to talk and think at the same time. When you’re typing you can think ahead etc… typing is an automatic/reflexive process once you get the hang of it.

    Mind you – maybe if you had a good enough interface, you could bypass the need for text altogether.

    Until then, Happy New Year :)

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  1. […] Games as pavlovian motivators for… doing good. I think this has huge potential – and is the basis for my notions of how smart-meters should work… and there was a pedometer thing recently that was pretty cool. […]