News in Short: Toronto’s InteraXon uses brain waves to manipulate world, video game melts graphic cards


interaxonCanadian company harnesses power of the mind

Obsessed with magicians or psychic superheroes as a kid? Live vicariously through them no longer—you, too, will have their powers.

Toronto-based InteraXon has developed a system called “thought-control computing,” and it’s exploring a range of commercial opportunities, including screens on airplanes and video games.

Ariel Garten Initially developed by world-renowned cyberneticist Dr. Steve Mann and his colleague, Dr. James Fung, Ariel Garten took the technology to the business world and became CEO of InteraXon in 2007. From the company’s website:

THINK: Your brain generates electrical patterns that resonate outside your head, which accumulate into brainwaves detectable by an Electroencephalograph. With practice you can learn to manipulate your brainwave pattern, like flexing a muscle you’ve never used before.

TRANSLATE: InteraXon’s interface works by turning brainwaves into binary. Our system analyses the frequency of your brainwaves and then translates them into a control signal for the computer to understand.

ACTIVATE: Your translated brainwaves can now control anything electric. InteraXon designers and engineers make the experience so seamless, the connected technology seems like an extension of your own body.

From The Globe and Mail:

Aside from controlling lights and other devices … the process can also be used in to treat children with Attention Deficit Disorder. It helps them learn how to focus. “There’s a lot of research that shows 10 to 12 one-hour sessions using this system are as effective as Ritalin,” [Ariel Garten] said.

Garten says it can also help monitor a person’s mental state. “Just like we do heart-monitoring now, for example, brain-monitoring allows you to measures the health and distress of a patient,” she said.

The technology could be used to help monitor motorists on the ground or airline pilots in the skies, [Rod Jones, director-general of the Ontario Aerospace Council] said. “Gauging whether or not they are (alert) is something that would have a very useful application.”

SC2Blizzard’s Starcraft II will fry your hardware

StarCraft II: Wings of Libertygaming giant Blizzard’s latest release, has no default frame-rate limiter in its programming. This means that computer processors (both PC and Mac) with, as Blizzard calls it, “insufficient” cooling capabilities are finding themselves pushed beyond their designed limits.

Blizzard added a quick band-aid fix option on its support site, saying that “screens that are light on detail may make your system overheat if cooling is overall insufficient. This is because the game has nothing to do so it is primarily just working on drawing the screen very quickly,” and offering a temporary workaround by adding some code to a text file.

They have no plans to replace fried hardware, however.