You know those neat mind-control toys? Well, Intel has some grand plans for mind control that go far beyond their limited power. By 2020, the company's researchers plan to have chips that let you control computers with your thoughts.
But here's the scary part: To read your brain waves, Intel's not planning on having you wear some kind of skull-cap--the solution venerable sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke proposed--no, instead you'll have tiny chips actually implanted directly into your brain. Brings a whole new meaning to "Intel Inside" doesn't it?
The technology works by recognizing the patterns your brain makes while you're thinking about a particular thing. Much as the IBM team that's working on simulated brain technology has been doing, Intel's team has been using functional resonance imaging scans to investigate what patterns real human brains make under specific stimuli. Under similar stimuli, different people's brain patterns tend to look the same--which is the trick Intel plans to exploit to create a brainwave-reading device.
The technology is in its very early stages, but Intel's team is confident it has a path to making it work, and its also confident that in time consumers will see the benefits, and actually desire to have the implants made. The question why Intel is doing this is a little more subtle. According to the team, the way we interact with our technology nowadays is rapidly becoming problematic--particularly as the systems become more sophisticated, and we all generate more, and more complex data. That's partly why Microsoft imagines its Project Natal as being far more than a games control interface, and is working on turning it into a remote control for your TV too. Intel's research obviously is the next generation--or many generations down the line anyway. And let's not forget how convenient it would be for fighter pilots to control their machines by thought alone.