Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Link of the Week - Radical Innovation
BrainPort - sensory substitution. As radical as it gets. Plasticity is an amazing thing - highly, highly recommended. More info (with movies).
"...Mr. Weihenmayer, a 35-year-old adventurer who climbed to the summit of Mount Everest two years ago, recently tried another version of the BrainPort, a hard hat carrying a small video camera. Visual information from the camera was translated into pulses that reached his tongue.
He found doorways, caught balls rolling toward him and with his small daughter played a game of rock, paper and scissors for the first time in more than 20 years. Mr. Weihenmayer said that, with practice, the substituted sense gets better, "as if the brain were rewiring itself.
...the research team had thought of dozens of applications for the BrainPort, which he called a "USB port to the brain.
...Dr. Raj said the tongue unit had already been tried out in a game that involved shooting villains. "In two minutes you stop feeling the buzz on your tongue and get a visual representation of the bad guy," he said. "You feel like you have X-ray vision. Unfortunately it makes the game boring.""
Uhh...I cannot stress how revolutionary this could be. If it works out, this is the cheap brain interface everyone's been waiting for. Evolved versions of this technology will create the kind of sci-fi style brain interface that will absolutely vaporize and recreate industries like music, film, games, education, communication, web, etc.
The economics are exactly right - the technology leverages the brain to do all the costly heavy lifting. There's a learning curve involved, and quality's not great - but both of these become irrelevant as the technology diffuses and newer versions realize order-of-magnitude shifts in output.
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