Printing human thoughts: myth or reality
Imagine you decided to get some set of new toys for your child, after asking what choice he/she would prefer, your kid kept repeating this hard to grasp description of a toy that was shown on teletoon or an imaginary toy he had always dreamt of. Imagine just putting a few tender wires over his head, ask him to think of the toy and Viola!! his dream toy is printed from a machine, a 3D printer to be precise in just but minutes without much stress.
This fantasy has been enacted on Hollywood’s SciFi videos for just long enough for techies to catch up on. Printing your very thoughts might seem like an unfeasible vagary and a far fetched dream but that dream is perhaps just moments away.This technology may be closer than you think thanks to 3-D printing. 3-D printing is making it easier and faster to produce complex objects with multiple moving parts and intricate design,and soon it will be affordable enough to have at home.
3D printing a technology that started out as a way to build rapid prototypes for automobile,aerospace,dental and medical industries has metamorphosed to cater for art,fashion and furniture industries as well.. And yes to avoid angry kids throwing darts at us, also “the toy industry”.
Engineers and designers have been using 3D printers for well over 2 decades now. When game changing technology that lets a computer software analyze your thoughts and print same is introduced, the possibilities are seemingly endless. From the much touted printing of artificial limbs, building models to well just about anything your mind can creatively think of.
“What is the point of these printers if my son cannot design his own toy?” says Bryan Salt, CEO of Thinker Thing, a tech firm pioneering the project to print human thoughts using 3D printers. “I realized that while there were a lot of people talking about the hardware of the printer no-one really seemed to be talking about how to actually use it.” In theory 3D printers could help unleash our inner creativity, freeing us from the constraints of traditional production methods.
A new kid on the block.
As impressive as 3D printing might be , without the thought provoking prospect of “printing what we think”, then it will be quiet frankly less exiting.
That’s where Emotional Evolutionary Design (EED), the software that allows Thinker Thing to interpret its users’ thoughts, comes in. Its current role is to power the Monster Dreamer Project, which will allow users to design their own fantastical creatures using the power of thought. Being the host country to the project lucky Chilean children will get the first opportunity to try it out during tour of schools in the country. When those children sit in front of a computer running Monster Dreamer software, they will be presented with a series of different body shapes in bubbles. These will mutate randomly, with built-in rules preventing them becoming too abstract. The children’s reactions to the changes will be picked up by an Emotiv EPOC headset , a $300 electroencephalography (EEG) device designed to pick up the electrical signals from brain cell interactions using fourteen sensors on the scalp. As different brain states such as excitement or boredom generate specific patterns of brain activity, the computer can identify the shapes associated with positive emotional responses. The favored shapes will grow bigger on the screen, while the others shrink. The biggest shapes are combined to generate a body part, and the process is repeated for different body parts until the monster is complete. The final result should be a unique 3D model that is ready for printing as a solid object that was in their thoughts reports BBC technology blog.
How do i get one of these tech gadgets….?
The questions on our mind might as well be if it is a tech gadget, how do i get my hands on one of these?, is it affordable? , is it user friendly? Etcetera..well we can get an Ultimaker 3D printer on Amazon at $3105 a unit. But getting a 3D printer incorporated with the necessary EED softwares and associated hardware may almost certainly be Herculean. Reasons not being far fetched; emotiv EPOC headsets used to analyze the thinkers brain signal are not very accurate due to certain interferences. The electrical impulses supposedly received by these headset are dampened due to thick protective coverage offered by the skull. Also electrical impulses from the facial muscles counteracts those that barely emerges from the brain through the skull, thus technically the headsets measure more of facially induced impulses and less of brain electric impulses. A quick fix to these would be to use more accurate devices like the Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. These suggestion i base solely on experiments conducted in 2011 by professor Jack Gallant of the University of California. Gallant’s team used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to show how computers can be trained to read the minds of those watching moving images. They built up a database of the activity in a key visual center of the brain as three fellow researchers watched a compilation of Hollywood film trailer clips. All said and done, the aim of the experiments which was to analyze human thoughts through impulses given out by the brain was successful and notably with less interferences. At first thoughts one would think replacing those not so accurate Emotiv EPOC headsets with MRI scanners would make this lovely gadgets ready for consumers. But its a little complicated, MRI scanners are giant electromagnets so incorporating it into 3-D printers would make them worryingly bulky and unsafe. Though Japanese researchers have made several commendable breakthroughs in this subjects, ebay and amazon won’t be displaying this gadgets in their catalogues just yet, at least until the techies find a way to piece together its delicate parts into a consumer friendly 3-D printer kit. Be rest assured its happening soon, quite soon.