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BBC trials iPlayer mind-control interface

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BBC

The BBC is testing a system that lets you control iPlayer using only your mind.

Turning your TV on in the future may be as easy as thinking about it, according to the BBC.

The esteemed British broadcaster has revealed an experiment it has been running in conjunction with user experience studio This Place. It involved attaching an electroencephalography (EEG) headset to a bunch of willing BBC employee guinea pigs and asking them to select a programme from a small list.

"It’s an internal prototype designed to give our programme makers, technologists and other users an idea of how this technology might be used in the future," says the BBC's head of business development Cyrus Saihan.

The headset can work using two kinds of mental input: Meditation or Attention. With a timeline steadily moving between a selection of favourite BBC programmes every 10 seconds, the user must either relax or focus at the appropriate point to start up the desired broadcast.

Admittedly this crude early implementation is slower than a normal remote, and it's not particularly nuanced. As the accompanying article points out, this initial effort basically involves a simple binary on/off selection.

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However, such mind control has obvious applications for those with severe physical disabilities.

"People affected by motor-neurone disease or suffering locked-in-syndrome may increasingly be able to use brain-computer interfaces to get a better experience of digital and media services than they currently do," says Saihan.

The experiment is also being run with one eye on the future. With voice control already becoming a part of our living room setup through things like Amazon Fire TV and the Xbox One's Kinect system, the next major step is surely going to be a silent one.

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