The creation of the device has opened exciting possibilities in the field of brain-computer interface technology.
Imagine ordering your favourite pizza without even lifting a finger, and receiving it on your doorstep just by thinking of it! This seems like a futuristic concept from a science fiction movie, but this is now becoming a reality, thanks to a revolutionary device called the AlterEgo. This breakthrough device was created by Arun Kapur, an Indian student from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. He is currently pursuing his PhD at MIT, in the Media Arts and Sciences program at the MIT Media Lab.
This device harnessing the power of the mind allows users to effortlessly order a pizza without speaking a single word or touching any physical device. The AlterEgo device which makes this miracle possible is based on the emerging field of neurotechnology. This new technology utilizes a combination of sensors, electrodes, and cutting-edge algorithms, whereby this device reads and interprets the electrical activity of the user's brain. This neural activity is then processed into specific commands that facilitate the ordering process.
The device consists of a set of electrodes that are attached to the user's face and jaw, along with an earpiece that plays audio feedback to the user. It is trained to recognize the electrical signals associated with specific sub-vocalizations, allowing users to silently communicate with technology and receive auditory feedback through bone conduction.
The video of Arun Kapur has gone viral on the internet in which the interviewer asks him a few questions and the latter’s response is displayed on a screen. In that video, Kapur has answered the questions asked to him without even uttering a single word, as the device interpreted his thoughts. In the test which was being conducted, he silently googled the questions asked to him and heard the answers through vibrations transmitted through his skull and into his inner ear.
The primary goal of MIT in developing this technology is to help people who are suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which is a rare neurological disease that affects the nerve cells that control the voluntary muscle movement of the body. If this technology works out in a satisfactory manner, it has the potential to improve the lives of individuals with neuro-physiological limitations making it easier for them to carry out everyday tasks without relying on others.
It can be particularly useful in situations where verbal communication is not an option or where individuals have difficulty speaking, such as in noisy environments or for individuals with speech deficiencies.
The device introduces various advantages that could transform the way we interact with technology for ordering food. Firstly, it provides a hands-free experience, which is especially useful for individuals with physical disabilities or limited mobility. Moreover, it offers a discreet and silent method of ordering, allowing users to place their orders without disturbing others or requiring them to be physically present at the ordering location.
Opens up exciting possibilities
However, there are several challenges also. Just think about a situation in which you are planning to have a delicious meal at an expensive restaurant or dreaming of booking a flight and hotel ticket to your dream destination which is way too expensive for you. If AlterEgo is activated, in all these situations you will end up losing your money. It also raises significant privacy concerns, as the device would have access to our thoughts or can interpret our unspoken desires, leading to serious, till now unimaginable inter-personal and societal exigencies.
What if we are just recalling our passwords or the information we never want to share with anyone? Can this be ‘hacked’ by a cyber-thief? Accurate interpretation of brain signals is also one of the major obstacles in perfecting AlterEgo, meaning that users may need to train themselves to concentrate on specific thought patterns for reliable functionality.
While the AlterEgo device is still in the research and development stage, it has shown promising results in early tests. However, further development and refinement are needed before it can be commercialized and made available to the public.
The creation of the device has opened exciting possibilities in the field of brain-computer interface technology. As this technology continues to evolve, one can only imagine the incredible advancements it may bring to a wide range of industries and applications.
(The writer is a student at Amity University, Noida, India)