New Scientist has news of a wheelchair under development that can be controlled by measuring brain impulses sent to the larynx. The user simply has to think the word “forward” and the chair moves forward. I dare you to watch the embedded video of the chair in action and not be at least a little impressed. The neckband looks a little uncomfortable, especially for those of us with trachs and ventilator tubing in the near vicinity, but I’m sure that can be miniaturized before too long. This technology seems like it could be adapted for other uses. I’d love to be able type these blog entries just by thinking of the words.
On the other hand, I can also think of hazards that might accompany such an interface. Imagine: you’re in your tricked-out wheelchair, cruising down the sidewalk, when the lyrics to Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now” pop into your head. And off you go into oncoming traffic.