ThinkContacts + NeuroSky = Hands Free

And you thought having a touch screen was cool. ThinkContacts is a new smart phone app under development that uses your brainwaves to choose between callers and dial them up. The system uses a NeuroSky headset – basically a crude EEG sensor – to pick up on electrical signals from your cortex. The signals are then sent from the headset to your phone via Bluetooth, where they control the phone depending on your state of mind.

A GUI for the system lets you scroll horizontally among your contacts list (N.B. your friends are Woody, Cartman, and Darth). Two bars indicate your current level of “meditation” or “attention” in real time as your brainwaves are measured from the headset. If attention peaks above 70%, you scroll to the next caller; if it drops below 30%, you scroll to the previous. To call someone, empty your mind completely… or at least to 80% on the meditation meter.

Check out the video:

The app is being developed for the Nokia Maemo platform, and looks to be in early stages. It’s specifically marketed to motor disabled users, and hopes to offer them an increased level of independence. It’s a cool application for NeuroSky, one of the new relatively cheap EEG headsets that have been hitting the market (we recently covered Emotiv, a competing system). These headsets are able to pick up rudimentary differences in brain electrical activity that are best suited for simple, binary tasks.  I’m a bit skeptical that you’ll be playing Halo with them anytime soon (their target market is gaming); still, they’re perfect when they’re given the right kind of application. ThinkContacts seems to be just that.

Not convinced? I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Drew Halley is a graduate student researcher in Anthropology and is part of the Social Science Matrix at UC Berkeley. He is a PhD candidate in biological anthropology at UC Berkeley studying the evolution of primate brain development. His undergraduate research looked at the genetics of neurotransmission, human sexuality, and flotation tank sensory deprivation at Penn State University. He als...