Journey to the future: How Samsung is creating a TV that can be controlled by your brain

The TV won't require a remote control or voice-based command to communicate with the user.

 |  3-minute read |   12-11-2018
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Times are changing, and they are changing fast. 

From boxy CRT idiot boxes to almost wafer thin panel sporting TVs, the television industry has come a long way in the last few years.

Rapid advances in technology have made televisions not only better and bigger but also smarter than ever. However, the sophistication in technology is all set to reach a new high, with Samsung recently showing off a new operating system that does not need a remote control or voice-based command to communicate with the user. Rather, it can be controlled by your brain.

Sounds too fanciful to be true? Well, luckily it isn't. 

Unveiled at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco, the new smart TV software being developed under the codename, Project Pontis, "aims to make Samsung's televisions more accessible for people with physical disabilities like quadriplegia," reports CNET

But what Samsung has also achieved in this effort is to create a program that can read human brainwaves to enable the user to carry out basic tasks such as change channels and adjust sound volume with their brains.

Far from being the finished product, the operating system is being developed by Samsung's research team in partnership with the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

Explaining the idea behind the project, one of the researchers associated with the project, senior scientist, Ricardo Chavarriaga said: "We're making tech that is more complex, that is more intelligent, but we should not forget this tech is being made to interface with humans... Provide accessibility to people who cannot move or who have extreme limitations on their movements."

ai-copy_111218073626.jpg(Photo: Reuters)

How does it work?

First things first. Mind-controlled gadgets aren't entirely a new thing. Though nothing on the scale of what Samsung is developing, we've seen a few gadgets before that have used brainwaves to communicate with the user. 

But because of the complexity of the software and the scale at which it could be released, the researchers are trying out a few tricks while developing this mind-controllable OS – including using sensors to track a user's eye movements along with the brainwaves to relay the command to the TV. The prototype unveiled at the Developer's Conference uses eye tracking to determine when a user has selected a particular option. 

But before you get all excited there's an important piece of information that you need to be aware of. Because of the nature of the technology, the user is required to wear a special headgear to control the TV. The headgear in itself is quite sophisticated and uses 64 sensors and eye tracker to bring the magic to life. 

Since the whole operation is also dependent on the user making differing choices, the gadget also uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to make better sense of the signals transmitted from the user's brain. 

When will it make its way to our living rooms?

The technology is still in its very early days, as such, there is little chance of Samsung coming out with a product in the consumer market that makes use of this feature any time soon. Then there's also the problem of the need for a separate headgear for enabling this technology. 

Yet, the rapid pace at which technology is evolving we might just see these problems get fixed sooner than later. 

Case in point, Elon Musk's pet project, Neuralink. This technology, Musk claims will seamlessly combine humans with computers, helping us interact directly with artificial intelligence. Musk has promised a big breakthrough in Neuralink in the coming months. In the future, we may see a similar technology being employed by Samsung to bring to reality TVs that can be controlled by our brains. 

Also read: The phone and its art - How the smartphone is in fact the modern day painting

 

 

Writer

Sushant Talwar Sushant Talwar @sushanttalwar

Tech journalist, DailyO

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