As a child I spent countless hours trying to perfect the Jedi mind trick. I would vainly attempt to change TV channels with a mere thought, turn the dishwasher on with a clap of my hands or turn the thermostat higher with a click of my fingers. To my knowledge, none of these efforts ever succeeded. However, after spending a little time with Google Glass, I'm starting to wonder if I'm edging closer to my childhood ambitions.
By now, I'm sure many of you have read the countless tales of the Google Glass early adopters. Robert Scoble and Loic Le Meur have posted frequent updates on their experiences as they explore the capabilities of this new device. These capabilities include the ability to take pictures by merely blinking, unobtrusively recording conversations as they happen and navigating the highways without ever taking your eyes off the road.
While there are clearly many talking points regarding Google Glass, I'm more interested in what comes next. What follows? Are we approaching an era when our brains will become a connected interface?
Researchers at Samsung's Emerging Technology Lab have already made significant progress in developing ways we can control our smartphones and tablets purely with our thoughts. This is achieved through the use of a skullcap studded with EEG-monitoring electrodes. This skullcap enables users to launch an application, call a contact, play a song and other basic functions.
Other companies are also developing lightweight headsets that enable people to play basic games with their thoughts alone. One wonders how soon before Microsoft or Sony start exploring such technology for their gaming platforms.
It's not just large Internet companies and gamers that are pursuing this technology though. The Obama administration recently launched the BRAIN Initiative. This project aims to develop a detailed map of every neuron and its associated activity in the human brain.
Expected to take over a decade to complete, the BRAIN Initiative will provide previously unheralded amounts of data on how the brain works. Technology companies will then be able to harness this data to take the connected brain to the next level. One can only imagine the use cases.
It's tantalising to consider what may happen when a truly connected brain meets the Internet of Things. For example, it may be possible for your thermostat to actively monitor your body temperature. When your temperature reaches a certain figure, the thermostat lowers the heat in the house. Or perhaps your house lights monitor your proximity to your home. When you reach a certain distance, the house lights are automatically activated.
Clearly there's a great deal of work to be done and a number of cultural discussions that will also need to take place. But I for one am excited that I may relatively soon be able to achieve mental feats that even Yoda would struggle with. Now, let's see if I can change that TV channel ...