Talk About Hands-Free: You Could Soon Make a Phone Call Using Thoughts

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Making a call with your thoughts

Getty images/Hans Neleman

Scrolling through your address book and pressing the “call” button could become obsolete.

A new brain interface is being explored by researchers in San Diego, California, which could enable you to make calls just by thinking of the number. Participants who used it found it to be almost 100% accurate, though some people achieve higher accuracy than others.

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The inventors? Neuroscience researcher Tzzy-Ping Jung and colleagues, from Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the University of California. The participants had to sit in front of a screen and were shown a keypad with numbers flashing a different frequencies. Jung found that these frequencies could be detected and you could know what number the subject was looking at. Electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes on the scalp record brain activity and a EEG headband is hooked to a Bluetooth module, which sends signals to the phone. The Nokia N73 then uses algorithms to process the signals.

The device wouldn’t just be cool — it would also be a great advantage for people with disabilities. Jung says, though, he wants to target larger populations. The device could also be used, for instance, to sense lapses in concentration and detect when drivers or air-traffic controllers are feeling drowsy.

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