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article imageMicrosoft patents reveal conceptual mind control tech

By James Walker     Nov 20, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has published a series of patents that explore how neurological activity could be used to control a computer. The technology could be used to create a future mind-control system where you use your thoughts to interact with the device.
The string of patents was spotted by MSPoweruser over the weekend. The patents were published last week and have various filing dates, with the most recent being made during May. They all relate to using the mind as the primary control device for a computer system. Several examples show how the concept could be used.
Modifying interfaces
One of the patents, titled "Modifying a user interface based upon a user's brain activity and gaze," discusses how an app could automatically adjust its UI depending on the user's thoughts.
The proposed mechanism would use artificial intelligence to detect your brain activity and work out where you're looking. That section of the app's layout or design would then be adjusted to match what you're thinking about, perhaps loading new content or playing a video.
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This has implications for some of Microsoft's current tech. Its HoloLens mixed reality headset could be expanded to include mind control components, letting you interact with holograms using your thoughts alone. This would pave the way to a new generation of apps and games but also help facilitate industrial digital transformation.
Using mind control, a factory worker could view an instruction manual without having to physically interact with their device. This could be useful if they're operating in a confined environment or working on a complex part. Information workers might also benefit from the technology by being able to move away from the keyboard, letting them enter data at the speed of their thoughts.
Interpreting intent
In another patent, Microsoft describes how applications could change their state in response to your neurological activity. This would allow the program to interpret your gaze or thoughts as different forms of intention data.
Using a neural network, the application would infer your intentions from the activity in your brain. It might then create new data, automatically run a task or display some information using an output interface.
Interaction mechanisms such as mind control might seem alien today but they could be integral to the next era of computing. Mind control could support and expand complementary technologies like virtual reality and digital assistance, allowing computers to proactively assist you and always meet your requirements. Although there's no indication Microsoft's actively working on the system, the patent filings show the company's giving serious thought to the future of technology.
More about Microsoft, Mind control, interfaces, future tech, Digital
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