Friday, January 3, 2014

Human Technology Interfaces - What The Future Has In Store

All of us would have been reading something or other on technology advancements that work with human body. For example, we have Health IT companies experimenting embedding memory chips under the skin of human body to store the individual's health records, so that when you walk into clinic, the clinic will get to know about your health history and would be able to suggest the further course and all this can happen with a non human front office assistant. Similarly, with the advancement in the brain interfaces and in the lines of the movie "Minority Report", the Police and investigation authorities may get on to crime prevention mode, i.e. they will get to know the moment you think of committing a crime and technologies like virtual presence, surrogates etc, this might be accomplished without any human casualties.

There are more such advancements and in this blog, my attempt is to present few scenarios that could be a possibility in the near future and the effects that this can have on various attributes of mankind.

Glass: With further advancement Google Glass kind of gadgets could be miniaturized and could be worn like contact lenses. These lenses would be able to interface with things around you. For instance, the refrigerator will greet you with the current temperature and you will know what is inside various containers, by looking at it (without opening) and will also indicate its details like quantity, how many days it is stored, etc. Again with added gamification, one will enjoy performing various tasks on the kitchen table. These things while assisting you on performing these tasks like chopping vegetables, it will also keep a score of how you perform, so that you enjoy doing these tasks. These gadgets coupled with access to public and private data stores help you in decision making, which can enhance one's Personal Intelligence (PI). Check out this video to have a glimpse of what I have tried to narrate here.

Brain Interface: Gadgets like Brain Link are already in the market, which coupled with related applications on smartphones gives beneficial gaming experience like attention training, meditation, neuro-social gaming, research and knowledge about brain. Most of us would have watched the movies 'Surrogates' wherein humans would stay indoors while their surrogates would go out to work and 'Minority Report' where the police and justice department would get alerts the moment some one think of committing a crime. Quite many science fiction imaginations in the past have become reality now. Recent research accomplishments evidences that even the fiction exhibited in the above movies might become a reality some day that is not very far away. For instance, researchers at Harvard have demonstrated a non invasive brain-to-brain interface wherein humans could control animals with their thoughts alone.

Given that continued advancements on the brain interface will further this accomplishments and coupled with various other inventions, the next generation of man kind may experience the following:

  • Personal Intelligence can be augmented by wearing or embedding devices and / or gadgets.
  • Though humans can have private thoughts, these will be subject to review or audit by government agencies and no wonder securing your thoughts would become absolutely essential.
  • Shopping will be virtual and all products can be virtually felt / experienced sitting at home and then can be ordered.
  • All 'things' would have interfaces to interact with human.
  • Blink or double blinks can be programmed to perform certain actions like taking a snapshot of what you have been seeing at that moment, etc.
  • Artificial or Virtual dreams will become reality and one can have choice of dreams and choice of character. Extending this, one would be able to watch a favorite movie as they sleep and cast themselves as a character in the movie.
  • With Body Area Networking and embedded nano chips across various critical body parts, self diagnosis with alerts might be a possibility.
  • Human disabilities can be worked around using robotic body parts and brain interface technology.
  • The hacking community would sharpen their skills and would explore opportunities of hacking human thoughts and human memory, which could be the biggest security and privacy threat to combat for the security experts.

Here are some more videos demonstrating the innovations that are taking place around human technology interfaces:

  • Ford takes SYNC to the next level through the use of configurable controls and the use of an electronic personal assistant, or "avatar," named Eva
  • Someday well be living be living on and under the oceans. This idea isnt farfetched and if it comes true then heres the answer to a new type of underwater transportation system.
  • Using a brain-computer interface technology pioneered by University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He, several young people have learned to use their thoughts to steer a flying robot around a gym, making it turn, rise, dip, and even sail through a ring.
  • Cathy Hutchinson has been unable to move her own arms or legs for 15 years. But using the most advanced brain-machine interface ever developed, she can steer a robotic arm towards a bottle, pick it up, and drink her morning coffee.
  • At Barcelona University, scientists are working on a European Research Project to link a human brain to a robot using skin electrodes and video goggles so that the user feels they are actually in the android body wherever it is in the world.

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