Translating Soldier Thoughts to Computer Commands

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The Army Research Laboratory is funding research that would enable troops to communicate via a cellphone or radio without uttering a sound or moving a finger.

And if researches can fully exploit brain-computer interface – a technology that already exists and has enabled paralyzed individuals to move robotic arms – with increasingly advanced and sophisticated algorithm software, it could lead to direct control of military systems by thought alone, according to Dr. Liyi Dai, program manager in the Computer Sciences Division at ARL’s Army Research Office at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

“ARL recognizes that BCI is an emerging area with a high potential for revolutionizing the way we communicate with machines and that the potential exists for larger scale real-world applications such as brain-based communication through everyday devices,” Dai said in a recent feature from the lab’s press office.

The laboratory is funding two projects as part of the goal, the release states. One is to develop a prototype system for detecting imagined speech and monitoring a user’s attention and orientation by recording brain activity in real time, it states.

The other seeks to understand physiological biomarkers of brain signals for imagined speech detection, the feature states. If successful, that would allow researchers to design computational algorithms to extract biomarkers, or features, for imagined speech detection: a way for a program to know the user’s thoughts, it states.

Currently the two most common ways for recording brain activity for brain-computer interface includes noninvasive electroencephalography, or EEG, with an array of electrodes placed along the scalp, and a more invasive system – in which electrodes are placed directly on the exposed surface of the brain, according to the release.

But both systems work successfully only in lab settings for now, while the military will require technologies to work in real-world, operational environments, it states.

Army laboratory researchers also have to develop a feedback mechanism so that operators will know why a certain thought command did not execute, according to the release. With a feedback mechanism in place, he said, a user would able to overcome a problem by adjusting his thoughts, it states.

-Bryant Jordan can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
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    “Use the Force, Luke.”

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    Will the machine learn to be be controlled or control the scanned? I’m betting on the latter.
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  • jonbad2

    Any one care for some pie in the sky?

  • BlackOwl18E

    Some where later on down the road, some Marine operating a drone is going to get in trouble for drawing a dick in the sky. It’s just bound to happen.

  • PostwarVandal

    But will there be filters installed? Otherwise you will get commands along the lines of:
    “Require Fire Support, boobs”
    “Roger, we have remote controlled butts available which will be rerouted to your location. Boy I sure am hungry, I wonder what’s for lunch?”

  • franklin

    This really is the ultimate capability for an organic sentient being. When you combine the fastest super computer with a world database such as google without restrictions, and plug them into someone’s head it’s a bit hard to imagine what the processing power would be. I would imagine it would be correlating sub processes of data at almost instantaneous speeds while somehow still maintaining awareness of individual identify in time and space. Kind of like the head in the old tv show called Quark! Now if a cloned pair of the Barnstable twins came with the job it could be interesting. I wonder what the reciprocal feedback would be from multiple orgasms with the three of us plugged in at the same time? This also leads to the question of combining the brains of various specialists for computational correlation with super computer processing. What an erection that would be!

    • Dundral

      whoa there, Its literally just a computer that rings a bell when it sees a picture of a dog. Only now its a pattern of brainwaves instead of a picture, and a computer command (turn left) instead of a bell. No input into the brain other than through external senses (sight etc)!

      Honestly I didnt think this tech would (or will) mature very far in this environment. Id expect it to progress much faster in the prosthetics or videogame industries, then be ported to military and vehicular control.

  • christophe

    This is interesting and amazing but is anyone asking whether this is good for humans in general. I was always surprised that Oppenheimer didn’t know if the Nuclear reaction would stop or if it would create a mini black hole or sun that would destroy the earth and yet they still detonated the bomb. Are we going to keep on working this way, creating new technologies wondering if they will kill us until one finally does?

    We are making tremendous advances but are they good for us? AI, virtual reality, nanobots, graphene, this is all amazing but can we control it? Even if we can control it, are we smart enough to know what’s good for us?

    Is it time to discuss a technological advance hiatus until we understand the amazing progress we have made, learn to control it and decide where we want to go?

    We are going full speed down the mountain on a bobsled, we don’t see where we are going, we don’t know where we want to go and we don’t see anybody. Shouldn’t we stop a minute and try to plot a course before we hit the a tree or fall off a cliff?

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      Oh heck! every time they fire up the CERN Collider they are trying to find particles that where produced in the big bang. Don’t worry about it. you won’t feel a thing when it happens. They even did an April fools joke about a guy who came from the future to warn of a Cataclysmic event caused by CERN.

      You can make a lot of assumptions about human nature, and the prime directives do have their sub commandments. They include forging for food to sustain life, or looking good for a potentual mate in order to reproduce. Intelligence is a survival instinct that manifests itself in competing for food, sex and habitation. Here we have the ultimate expression of survival. Then the question might be can we become disembodied and still sentient in our choice of universe while still being capable of reproduction. We could also ask if modifying the prime directive would enhance our existence. Go figure.

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  • Computer Support

    This is one of the best innovation. It would be good if human thoughts can be attached by computer commands then the life would become more easy. I really hope that this will be used positively for positive things and missions.

    • cretanadia

      The research in interface IT is from the 1980′. The article did not report the support algoritm software now in use that is linguistic Cogito format. They use ultrasound lateralization algoritm for the first stage . For this kind of software tests involve tissue cavitation phenomenon index and optoaccoustic effect from which deriving what would be a more accurate nerve accoustic sound UHF. For speed up the process they use amplifers chemical compound alike quantum

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    I’m proud of it. This is one of the best innovation

  • Jual SMS Center

    it’s wonderful Translating Soldier Thoughts to Computer Commands

  • Jual SMS Broadcast

    That’s great. This really is the ultimate capability for an organic sentient being

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  • Jasa Ketik

    Thank you for the article Bryant Jordan

  • Jasa Pengetikan

    Great that The Army Research Laboratory is funding research that would enable troops to communicate via a cellphone or radio without uttering a sound or moving a finger.

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    I would imagine it would be correlating sub processes of data at almost instantaneous speeds while somehow still maintaining awareness of individual identify in time and space. Kind of like the head in the old tv show called Quark! Now if a cloned pair of the Barnstable twins came with the job it could be interesting.

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