Feeds

Microsoft patents brain-computer link

Finding out how much you really like using Office

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Microsoft has sent in a patent application where no patent application has gone before. It wants to own the rights to read your mind.

More specifically, the firm says it wants to understand human computer interaction better, and has opted to read our minds. The psychic approach is the best option, the firm says, because questions asked while someone is using a computer will invariably produce the result that people find surveys very distracting, and asking later doesn't get the goods.

In fact, asking people what they think of a machine and the way it works is absolutely useless as a technique because "humans are often poor reporters of their own actions", says Microsoft. That is to say, we mis-remember, and make stuff up.

The mind reading stuff is tricky, though. Although it is simplicity itself to monitor brain activity ("Would Sir care to don this striking electrode hat?"), making sense of the data is tougher. For a start, although all your thoughts are being transcribed, so is all the extraneous stuff, like blinking, remembering not to fart in the office, fidgeting in your chair, and so on.

What Microsoft wants to do is filter the noise and study the cognitive signals. And this is what it has applied for a patent to do.

The firm says its method will make it easier to characterise brain activity, and will not require users to sit very still, close one eye, or be shielded from EM fields, for example. The technique is also much cheaper than traditional methods and can be carried out with off-the-shelf components.

If this sort of thing continues, we'll all be sending the Beast of Redmond a monthly cheque for the privilege of using our own brains. Obviously, some people's cheques will be smaller than others, and some folk may get away with paying nothing at all... ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.