BBC Future featured on its website as of 14 June 2013, that a Chilean registered enterprise named Thinker Thing developed software called Emotional Evolutionary Design which can interpret the thoughts of a user, to help 3D print objects imagined by that user, and designed entirely by thought. This comes on the heels of an university team reporting earlier in the same year, the development of a thought controlled flying robot.
Believe it or not, like it or not, the hottest and fastest evolving trend in technological R&D at the time of this blogger’s writing of this post, is that in the area of direct brain control. Whether it is controlling robots with brain-waves or other applicable devices, or instructing a computer directly with the brain, by feeding thoughts that would then be interpreted and processed with the help of programmes or software meant to do just that.
Imagine this, a world where I want a new cup for myself, I think it up, design it in my head, including the colour, shape and size of my choice, and I have it printed at home, with the help of a 3D-printer, without any technical ability or knowledge in making a cup, or designing one with my hands even with the help of a computer that is conventional by present day standards, simply by thinking thoughts, that are picked up and interpreted and processed by software on a wearable Personal Computing Device (PCD) ? Such technology is present today. However, here are the facts of what is happening today:
1. Wearable computers that are functional, practical and workable will be available to common mass consumers around the world within the first half of this decade, in the earliest stage, with Google Glass leading that race.
2. 3D-printers were being worked on and used for the last two decades and within the last 1 year alone have made major headways towards becoming affordable, practical and usable by consumers, though with limitation, that technical knowledge at least in terms of design and software would be requisite on the part of the user, to be useful.
3. In 2013 alone, there have been multiple breaking news on advances in mind or brain controlled technology, neuro-computing and the study of the brain’s activity that will further enable scientists and engineers ahead to produce brain-wave reading and control technologies, to progress from laboratories, to practical daily consumer application
4. History thus far tells us, at eventual points in time, technologies converge.
I will print that cup of my liking and taste, on my own, in my home, within my natural lifespan, because given the information on hand, of all the relevant technologies at their current stage of progress, I can map the technological progress ahead, to predict, that it will be a reality within the natural lifespan of my generation. I will not print that cup, if I die an early death. Life we cannot predict. The good news is, technology, very competently, and confidently therefore, we can.
Now, 3D-printing is rather progressive or advanced a subject to think of, in itself, let alone, brain-controlled and thought-based 3D-printing. Let us take a step back. Let us talk about the thus far conventional printing, of documents. What if, without a keyboard or a mouse, I imagine and think up and draft a document in my mind, it forms as I think, with thought interpretation software, on a screen, or in a holographic projection, wherever I am, and it prints itself via a wireless printer, wherever I want it printed? Something Microsoft would want to think about? Perhaps Microsoft would want to think about me, creating presentations, advanced ones, without any software or design or programming knowledge, that are lively, rich and interactive, with video, animation and sound features, without touch any hardware, simply by thinking them, and my PCD detecting my thoughts, the software in it, interpreting and processing those thoughts, to create that seamless, beautiful, attractive and lively powerful presentation, that I can use to communicate to my stakeholders, via holographic projection or emailing it to them with voice narration? You will never have to teach your kids how to navigate through the tool bar for any software again. They think it, and it happens. Eventually, this will happen. Disruptive Technology would be an understatement for such a development. It will be Transformative Technology, more appropriately, transforming entirely and complete, our relationship with technology as we know it altogether.
Till the start of 2013, 3D-printing was something that the majority of professional Futurists around the world were looking towards, apart from wearable computers, as the next great technological disruption, still, despite it evolving for the past two decades. Now, suddenly, the source of all Futurist excitement has become the interaction between the human brain and technology. And you really cannot call that or associate that with, the term Disruptive Technology. You see, this area, is a far greater, with so many possibilities and so many possible endings for so many businesses and technologies that exist today, while creating so many opportunities that perhaps nothing else has ever created before for humanity.
The PCD reads my thoughts, and relays them to someone I know and that person responds to me via the same means; Virtual Telepathy. Our way of communicating over distance is changed, forever. While I do not use my voice, but rather my thoughts, the person at the receiving end of my communication hears a voice, where thought is translated into audio, because the software is picking up what I am saying, in my head.
A person who does not have knowledge in music, does not have a great voice, but has fantastic imagination of what music or a song should be, and how it should sound, and that person sings it, composing the music concurrently in the mind, and records it, with thought, with no technical assistance or a costly studio or equipment, and shares it. You could have very different sorts of musicians in a world where something like that is possible.
I can’t dance. I put on a robo-suit, that I control with my thoughts, and I imagine the dance movements in my head, and the robosuit I have on, moves accordingly, and I could very much impress everyone around me, possibly, because my mind is capable of much more than my body is, and with technology that works with my mind directly, helps me bridge the gap.
Now imagine, with so much possible, when the brain directly talks to software, that controls hardware, how many new productive and constructive jobs can be created for people, by the people themselves? Investing in some hardware, after tumbled prices, every average person with the ability to imagine uniquely, could hawk unique wares of different purposes and functions, and you have a business. People who can’t sculpt or paint with their hands, could become revered artistes for what they are able to see in their heads. They could provide truly intellectual services to the world, without having technical expertise to communicate them with web tools, for they could just think something, a software creates what they need on the web as a communication channel, and they have an enhanced outreach.
As we evolve and progress in the direction, we could use our brains to develop products and technologies, we’d otherwise have no technical competency of building. How, the computer sources for the information, data or knowledge we require after we’ve thought of something, and it processes it, on our command, to put something together, then 3D-print it, and assemble it. We’ll be making our own robots and machines, without being engineers, With concurrent advancements in robotics, where lay people can build their own robots in such ways, what is stopping us? And we think of instructions, to instruct the software to create software, to help us control the products. Technology gets more fluid and organic, and our interaction with it, more seamless and dynamic. With no input hardware or rules in the way, where the mind is all that user needs, it is indeed the redefinition of Human-Technological Interaction. It is admittedly, a distantly reality yet, however, the progress towards it that is ongoing, is rapid. Once we get there; it’s all in the mind.