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50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 48, A Queen West company is developing mind-control computing

No. 48 A tech company has invented mind control for computers

(Image: Steve Mann)

Much more conveniently located than a galaxy far, far away, a small tech company called InteraXon on Queen West is developing products that will allow you to control your iPad with your mind. InteraXon uses software originally created by the legendary U of T engineer Steve Mann, who was dubbed “the world’s first cyborg” because of his ingenious wearable computer devices. The company’s thought-controlled computing technology translates brainwaves into digital signals recognizable by a computer—be it in a video game, automobile or robot butler. In other words, the brain’s electrical activity, which you can supposedly learn to manipulate just like any muscle, is converted by an interface into binary code. InteraXon’s first public splash was a demo during the 2010 Winter Olympics that allowed headset-equipped visitors in Vancouver to mentally control light shows at the CN Tower, Parliament Hill and Niagara Falls. The company promises more radical breakthroughs in the next couple of years, including an unobtrusive, wearable home-monitoring system that will predict epilepsy seizures and notify doctors and family.