Mind Control?

Editor’s note: Hey look, a new author. Here’s the first post from Raymond Xie, who joined us nearly a year ago. You may remember him from such concept demos as geo-fencing or Pebble watchface. Raymond has been busy at work and wants to share the work he did with telekinesis. Or something, you decide. Enjoy.

You put on a headband, stare at a ball, tilt your head back-forth and left-right . . . the ball navigates through a simple maze, rushing, wavering, changing colors, and finally hitting the target.

That is the latest creation out of AppsLab: Muse Sphero Driver. When it was first showed at OAUX Exchange during OOW, it amused many people, as they would call it “mind control” game.

The setup consists of  Muse – a brain-sensing headband, Sphero – a robotic ball, and a tablet to bridge the two.

Technically, it is your brainwave data (Electroencephalography – EEG) driving the Sphero (adjusting speed and changing color with spectrum from RED to BLUE, where RED: fast, active;  BLUE: slow, calm);  and head gesture (3d Accelerarometer- ACC) controlling the direction of Sphero movement.  Whether or not you call that as “mind control” is up to your own interpretation.

You kind of drive the ball with your mind, but mostly brainwave noises instead of conscious thought. It is still too early to derive accurate “mind control” from EEG data out of any regular person, for the reasons:

1. For EEG at Scalp level, the noise-to-signal ratio is very poor;
2. Need to establish the correlation between EEG and mind activity.

But it does open up a dialog in HCI, such as voice-control vs mind-control (silence); or in Robotics, instead of asking machine to “see”/”understand”, we can “see”/”understand” and impersonate it with our mind and soul.

While it is difficult to read out “mind” (any mind activity) transparently, we think it is quite doable to map your mind into certain states, and use the “state” as command indirectly.

We may do something around this area. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, you can start to practice Yoga or Zen, to get better noise-to-signal ratio, and to set your mind into certain state with ease.


  1. Raymond: between the Smart Holster video where you were a thief, and now this video with mind control, I think you are on your way to becoming an evil supervillain. Hopefully the yoga will keep you on the side of good. 🙂

  2. On a serious note, HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is a term that’s been around forever. But now it seems like there is a divergence: two things which I will confusingly acronym as both BCI (Brain Computer Interaction and Body Computer Interaction). Is it important to distinguish between the two? Health trackers like Fitbit, Basis, etc are almost exclusively your body interacting with technology. There are a few things that are more about brain/technology interactions, like Muse or this game called Mindflex

    I have a Tinke, which is a device that plugs into your phone, and attempts to engage both body and brain (sort of like yoga, I guess), by providing 2 exercises, one which is purely your pulse rate, and one which focuses on your breathing and mental state.

    I’m curious about the differences between these things, and whether it’s important to split HCI into the components that make up a human? Getting philosophical in my old age.

  3. @Jake: I’m still familiarizing myself with the blog and figuring out which topics might be appropriate. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.