Telepathic email: I know what you're thinking "&brkbar;

One of my favorite jokes about the wireless business is how the ultimate disruptive technology is telepathy. This almost always gets a laugh, because we all know that's just science fiction. Right‾

 

Well, tell the US Army that. According to the Discovery Channel web site, the Army has awarded a grant to researchers at University of California, Irvine, CarnegieMellonUniversity and the University of Maryland to send emails and voice messages using only the power of the mind.

 

The technology behind this is "synthetic telepathy", in which one uses an electroencephalograph (EEG) to read electrical activity in the brain and translate it into a command that computers can understand.

 

It's not as far out as it sounds. A number of universities and start-up companies have been working on similar brain-controlled interfaces for years, and EEG headsets are already commercially available for things like specialized video games.

 

But right now they're not all that accurate in terms of locating signals in the brain and are only capable of very rudimentary commands rather than composing even simple messages, explains Paul Sajda of ColumbiaUniversity:

 

[T]hinking 'move rock' is easier than, say, 'Have everyone meet at Starbucks at 5:30.'

 

More accurate brain-mapping technologies like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) are available, but are too large and costly to work as headsets - at least for now. So we're still talking 15 to 20 years before the Bluetooth SIG needs to start worrying.

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