It's not too early to think about what to get the Army for the holidays. Actually, it is but that hasn't stopped it from asking for a "thought helmet." Yes, a thought helmet. It's exactly what it sounds like: a helmet that reads silent brain waves with sophisticated software that then translates waves into audible messages for others to hear. If Prince Harry was wearing one of the helmets here, he wouldn't even need the radio, we'd know exactly what he was thinking. . .
The US Army has just awarded a 5-year, $4 million contract to three American universities to develop helmets that would transform how soldiers communicate. How is this even possible? To find out,
To use the thought helmet, each person will have to be trained so computers can recognize individual mental patterns and read unspoken commands. They'll need to learn how to think loudly and clearly so their brain will send strong signals that can be distinguished from background noise. The Army neurologist overseeing the project doesn't think this will be hard because of the "clean, clear, and formulaic" way that soldiers are already trained to talk. Ultimately, they should be invaluable in combat and casualty care.
While it may be a decade or two away from reality, video gamers are already ahead of the, um, game. Next summer a $299 headset, which offers rudimentary version of brain wave technology, will hit the shelves. Scientists believe the army's more sophisticated technology will be useful to all of us in the future when we're able to talk on cell phones with only our most indoor voices — our thoughts.
I know what you're thinking; I am, too. Creepy? Mind reading, mind control, etc. But scientists preempted these accusations with this logic: every brain is unique and each person must train the system so it is impossible to do it unwillingly or without ongoing cooperation. Do you buy it? Is this technology a good idea, or just a scary thought?