Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Mind-Reading Virtual Binoculars

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) announced that it was awarded a contract to develop electronic binoculars that use brain activity to detect threats. The press release is here. My company is proud to partner with Northrop on this project.

The project seeks to present a panoramic day/night optical system to a user and monitor brain waves - yes, brain waves - to detect targets of interest. A panoramic view and high-resolution image was deemed very important for this project, which is why Sensics panoramic displays were chosen.

However, the drive to present users with diverse visual stimuli and measure brain activity is certainly not unique to the defense markets. We are working with several academic institutions to achieve much of the same goals within a research context.

Presenting users with narrow field of view displays could be considered not to put the human brain to full use as a super-fast object/pattern recognition computer. This is especially true given that difference parts of the visual field are used for different purposes: central vision is used for reading and perception of fine detail. Peripheral vision is used in humans and also in animals for threat detection, sensing movement and presence of peripheral objects. Try walking around with toilet paper rolls on your eyes (see this demo on the Washington Post) and you'll understand how critical peripheral vision is.

2 comments:

S├ębastien said...

This may be related to studies about how your subconscious detects a danger or just something wrong before you are consciously aware of it.
I think it was the army who wanted to use this "features" to bring this potential danger to consciousness.

Interesting, using the brain to enhance the brain..

optimal said...

The respose of the brain to stimulus, as measured by EEG contact electrodes, have benn analyzed successfuly by large-scale artificial neural networks (ANN) algorithms, to detect Alzheimer disease in elderly people.

No doubt that it can be applied to detect (even unconcious) response to threats, if trained with sufficient EEG data measured during the development phase of the project.

See more of the large-scale ANN in www.optimalneural.com.