Saturday, 15 October 2011

Robot cricket

Fantasy Bob has been reading about developing research in cyber something or other.  Not, he hastens to inform you in serious scientific literature such as Look and Learn, but on the less intellectually demanding BBC website.  Apparently there is already a range of brain wave reading headsets on the market which are mostly used in video gaming and similar pointless pursuits.  But the potential for these technologies is immense and almost too good to believe.  As the Gershwins pointed out in the 1930s - they told Marconi, wireless was a phoney, it's the same old lie. - so you'd better believe it.

Hal strutting  his stuff
There is work on sensors that can pick up brain activity signalling intention to move and translate it into movement.  This equipment can be used to restore physical ability to those who have lost it.  At Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), researchers have built thought-controlled wheelchairs and telepresence robots.  A further development comes from Japanese company Cyberdyne which is helping people who cannot walk to regain mobility by dressing them in a full-body robotic suit called Hal.

But there are applications outside healthcare.  EPFL are working with Nissan on an intelligent vehicle that can use brainwave data.   (Rightly they have given up on the driver ever being intelligent).  Brain wave sensors read what the driver is planning to do next and the car takes over. Toyota is working to develop a bicycle which can shift gear based on its rider's thoughts.  Where will it end?

Ripe for the
cyber treatment
FB is disappointed that no cricketing applications have been identified.  He suggests that there is a desperate need for a device which can pick up his intention to play a perfect cover drive and translate it into the Comptonesque stroke that his brain envisages before the purity of the signal is lost through communication to FB's arms legs and other bits of useless technology.  If it takes a full-body robocricket suit called Compton, so be it.   He puts that challenge out to all the clever clogs in the cyber labs the world over - they have just over 6 months before the start of next season.  Time is short.

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