Headset turns thought into deed


Taking flight on wings of fancy.

The ultimate input and control method is a direct connection to your brain. NeuroSky has just such a device on the market. It's a reasonably sleek headset that reads your alpha and beta brain waves, and then translates the readings into commands that are passed on to whatever you're trying to control.

Their breakout product last year was the Necomimi – fuzzy cat ears that attach to the headset and then move up or down or wiggle according to your mood. The company says they've sold hundreds of thousands of them at a hundred bucks a pop.

At the Showstoppers event tonight at CES, they demonstrated a model helicopter that you can control just by thinking about it. It's still a novelty, but it's a lot more impressive than cat ears.

They're looking for developers who can take it to the next level. The newest version of the headset costs $99 and they have an API available.

At the AT&T Hackathon this past weekend, one of the winners built an app that used a NeuroSky headset to track the wearer's mood and then direct calls accordingly. If your brainwaves show you're distracted, the call gets routed to voicemail without further vexing you.

NeuroSky is a major player in the medical EEG space already, and they want to break into the mass market. They're also thinking about branching out into cardio monitoring devices for consumer applications. So far, it's all for fun. But using your thoughts and vital signs to control the world around you will quickly become serious business.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.