“Use the force, Luke—” Or a cool new technology called BCI!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
BCI, or Brain Control Interface technology, translates fluctuations in brain activity into commands for various devices. NASA and the University of Essex have been experimenting with it. In this particular case, two test subjects tried to steer a virtual spacecraft to a planet.
The two had electrodes running from their scalps to a computer. The electrodes transmitted their brainwaves, then the computer converted them to orders for the spaceship simulator. Think right, turn right. Think lunch . . . danger, danger, Will Robinson!
It takes intense thought. So having two pilots thinking made up for lapses in one person's concentration.
In the future, using mental commands could increase pilots' and astronauts' response times. For now, the work is being used to develop specialized wheelchairs and dictation devices for the disabled.
All this without having to learn that Darth Vader is, in fact, your father. Thank you, science!