Samsung may be better known these days for its TVs and smartphones, but the company is a major R&D player in software and hardware markets. A recent investment of $1.1 billion in Silicon Valley is just one example of the place R&D has within Samsung.
Now, the South Korean electronics giant has shown working proof of a tablet controlled by the user's brain. An MIT Technology Review report says that Samsung’s researchers are working with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas in Dallas, on how users can use their thoughts to launch applications, pick contacts, choose songs in a playlist, adjust volume and power up and power down a tablet or any device, in this case, a Galaxy Note 10.1.
A brain-controlled interface being tested
Of course, work in this field is still nascent and Samsung has no intentions of bringing to market a smartphone or tablet that can be controlled by your brains. At this early stage, the process involves a cap studded with EEG-monitoring electrodes and it only serves to show how a brain-computer interface could possibly come to aid of people with mobility issues and complete tasks that other people may find pedestrian but would be impossible for them to carry out.
Samsung and the Dallas researchers monitored brain activity patterns that occur when people are shown repetitive visuals. This is how the team got EEG-detected brain signals to control a smartphone. For instance, researchers found that a user could launch any application by concentrating on its distinctive icon and can also make selections within menus as long as there are visual stimuli.
Insoo Kim is one of Samsung’s lead researchers on the programme and he believes it is all about finding new ways to interact with devices. “Several years ago, a small keypad was the only input modality to control the phone, but nowadays the user can use voice, touch, gesture, and eye movement to control and interact with mobile devices. Adding more input modalities will provide us with more convenient and richer ways of interacting with mobile devices,” he said.
The speed with which a user can interact with the device depends on the user, according to Kim. As per their research, on average, users can make one selection every five seconds with accuracy ranging from 80 to 95 percent.
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