The BBC is experimenting with mind control, but not the sort that conspiracy theorists dread. Rather, the creative agency and media company is testing a version of its streaming service, the BBC iPlayer, that can be controlled with users’ minds.
“We took a simple low cost brainwave reading headset and, working with UK based user experience studio This Place, created a ‘Mind Control TV’ prototype,” writes Cyrus Saihan, the Head of BBC’s Business Development department in a blog. “It allows users to open an experimental version of BBC iPlayer and select a TV programme to view, using nothing but their brainwaves.”
Basically, an EEG-brainwave reading headset controls a power bar on the side of the viewer’s screen, which responds to how “relaxed” the user is. The iPlayer app presents users with a list of shows to watch, and highlights a different one every 10 seconds. If the user wants to watch what’s highlighted, they need only “meditate” to lower the power bar.
“The idea of being able to simply think about something and then magically make it happen has fascinated people for many years,” writes Saihan. “So when we learnt that new technologies were now available in the market that allowed you to control electronic devices by measuring the brain’s electrical activity, we wanted to experiment with the technology to see what types of audience experiences this might result in.”
As impressive as any sort of “mind control” technology is, it’s not all that sophisticated, like most other pieces of consumer-grade brain scanning hardware. It basically only has one binary input, which is why the app — and not the user — scrolls through shows.
This is just a prototype, however, so don’t go getting rid of the myriad of remotes you have just yet.