Oh hackers, is there anything you can't do? Not content with mere voice commands for their iPhones, these brainiacs have come up with a way to control it with their minds. Astonishingly, it actually works.
Project Black Mirror is in the very early stages of development — these two guys named Ollie and Josh just came up with the idea over the Halloween weekend, but holy crap they already have a working prototype. Here's how it works, from their blog:
1. ECG pads provide raw skin conductivity / electrical activity as analogue data (0-5v). 2. This is plugged into the Arduino board via 4 analogue inputs (no activity = 0v, high activity = 5v). 3. The Arduino has a program burnt to it's EPROM chip that filters the signals. 4. Josh trained the program by thinking of the main Siri commands ("Call", "Set", "Diary" etc.) one at a time and the program where we captured the signature brain patterns they produce. 5. The program can detect the signature patterns that indicate a certain word is being thought of. The program will then wait for a natural ‘release' in brain waves and assume the chain of commands is now complete and action is required. 6. The series of commands are fed to a SpeakJet speech synthesiser chip 7. The audio output of which simply plugs into the iPhone's microphone jack.
We still can't believe it really works.
Yeah, I kinda can't either. In fact, it's entirely possible that this is bogus and I'll look like a tool for posting this. Call me a rube, but I want to believe this guys. Plus, I like their style, with blog entries like, "this shit might just work!" Here's a video of one of their first successful tests.
So, obviously, the system is big, bulky and overly complex right now, requiring a separate computer and a bunch of hardware. How impractical it is right now is insignificant. Here's how it could work (this is just my theory): The ECG pads connect connect to a small, pocket-sized device. That device connects by Bluetooth to the iPhone 4S, and an app on the phone translates learns your patterns and translates the signals to Siri. Something like that. This could also potentially solve Siri's problem understanding people with accents.
These guys just got approval from Kickstarter to launch a project to fund this gear. Keep checking back for that, and pledge away, because I really want to see this happen.