August 30th, 1996

Mind Controlled Appliances & Computer Programs

A recent post from James Hartman notified us about recent experiments where human thought was used to control appliances. Patrick Bailey found the location on the InterNet which gave more detail and coincidentally enough, I received a catalog in the mail describing a device which allows you to control your movements in various game programs using a biofeedback device. All of the above information is included herein for your consideration.

Date: Mon, 26 Aug 1996 17:33:11 -0700 - To: (Jerry Decker)

From: (Patrick Bailey) - Subject: The Mind Switch

Location of the MindSwitch site :

The Mind Switch





The Mind Switch refers to the technology that has been developed which allows a person to turn on and off an electrical appliance, such as a desk lamp or TV in 2-3 seconds without training. Proportional control, such as turning up or down the volume of a radio is also possible with the technology. This research is being carried at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).


Early in 1994 while studying the response of the brain to environmental factors Associate Professor Ashley Craig and Mr Paul McIsaac of the Department of Health Sciences at UTS, noticed an effect which appears to be common among all persons. That effect is an increase in a particular brain signal when a person closes his/her eyes for more than one second. The important question that Ashley and Paul then asked was could this effect be used to do something useful?, ie - could the control of the brain signal be used, in turn, to control something else? At this stage Ashley contacted Professor Tony Moon, the Dean of Science at UTS, to find out if anyone could help answer the technical questions and design a system that might exploit the apparent change in the signal level when a person closes his/her eyes. Professor Moon introduced Ashley to Dr Les Kirkup who is a senior lecturer in the department of Applied Physics at UTS, who has experience in developing electronics and instrumentation. It was thought he could offer important input to the project.

He was initially sceptical that signals as small as those that are present on the scalp, (where electrodes are placed to pick up brain activity) could be detected reliably and analysed sufficiently quickly to allow activation of an external device , such as a lamp or TV. The data that had been gathered on signal levels with eyes open and eyes closed showed that a significant increase occurred in the 8-13Hz part of the 'brain spectrum' commonly referred to as the 'alpha' region. Les built a det ection, discrimination and analysis system based on Ashley and Paul's data and, much to his surprise at least, the first person (Lucy) connected to the system showed the capability of operating a switch which could control an electrical appliance.

BACKGROUND - Technical

Serious work done on brain signals began with Berger in 1929 [Berger 1967]. Since that time the acquisition and analysis of brain signals, referred to as Electroencephalography (EEG) has advanced to such a state that EEG is regularly used to assist in the diagnosis of schizophrenia, epilepsy and brain tumours. [Geddes and Baker, 1989]. EEG has also been used in biofeedback studies in which subjects may learn to modify their EEG signals in response to visual representation of their EEG signals. This control usually take weeks or months to learn and is not highly reliable. The system we have developed does NOT rely on any learned skill by an individual. It simply requires a person to close his/her eyes for more than 1 second to effect sufficient change in the signals levels to allow for the reliable operation of a switch. It turns out that it has been known for many years that increase in signal level occur upon eye closure, but this is the first example (to our knowledge) of the recognition of its potential and the exploitation of the effect. The system used to detect the change in signals consists of amplifiers, filters and other signal processing elements (full details are still classified at the moment!). As there are other sources which can generate signals which can interfere with brain signals (and hence cause intermittent switching on and off of appliances) we have developed a noise suppression system which eliminates the effect of those noise sources. This feature is very important as we are currently developing the technology for disabled persons (we have a three year grant from the Motor Accident Authority of New South Wales, MAA) and reliability is a major issue. The funding from MAA has allowed us to appoint Mr Andrew Searle who has become a key figure in the technical developments regarding the Mind Switch. In addition Mr Perez Moses is developing new noise suppression techniques to be applied in this work.

Berger, H. 1967. On the electroencephalogram of man (trans. by P. Gloor).EEG Clin. Neurophysiol., Suppl. 28:1-350 Geddes, L. A. and Baker, L. E. 1989. Principles of applied biomedical instrumentation 3rd ed. (Wiley, New York): pp726-727


Les Kirkup demonstrates the Mind Switch by controlling a slot car set


Papers detailing our work have not appeared so far in the peer reviewed literature as we have been keen to secure funding for a patent to cover the intellectual property associated with the principles and the technology. We now have that funding. We are now in the position to submit papers to journals and it is our intention to write letters to international journals giving details of our developments.


We see that the technology we have developed could be used in the following areas; As an aid to the disabled to increase their control over the environment. For entertainment purposes, for example in the development of 'mind controlled' toys such as robots, or perhaps interaction with video games. As a fundamental element of the 'house of the future' in which (perhaps) a central computer responds to variations in brain signals and allows control of, for example, a security system or telephone.

It is the first application that we are concentrating on at present and have attracted grant money to partially support a three year development program in this area.

Current Developments

We are currently at the stage of testing a system that will allow a person to switch on or off up to six items. We see this as moving towards a system that could be tested in the house of a disabled person and give them control over a number of electrically operated appliances.

We are also investigating the nature and extent of the control that a range of people are able to show. This would allow us to decide where to best place electrodes on the scalp, and what adjustments might be required to customise the system to an individual.

Future Prospects

As well as technological development aimed at reducing the time it takes a person to activate an appliance and devising an improved noise suppression system, the most exciting prospect at the moment is the possible identification of another switch in the head that operates on quite a different principle. If we can confirm this and use the 'new switch' in conjunction with the one already developed, we might be able to offer the possibility of the brain sending codes that would allow many devices to be selected quickly - watch this space!

Many people have shown interest in the work the team is doing. Recently the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Peter McGauran, visited UTS specifically to talk to the team and experience the technology first hand.

These Pages maintained by Andrew Searle. Any comments or feedback welcome.

Mind Controlled Computer Programs?

A catalog came in the mail recently with some novel products. Chief among these was a small black box with a cable leading to a sensor module that attaches to your finger. You hook the box into your computer and it reads directed bio signals. It looks like one of those $15 Radio Shack lie detector circuits but the ad indicates there is more to it. KeelyNet does have a biology section and I am forever fascinated by interacting with machines by thought. I think such devices might be used as superb bio-feedback training techniques, especially in a game form. Here is the copy;

'The MindDrive'

a revolution in thought-controlled computing!

Forget keyboards, mice and joysticks! Now you can control your computer using only the power of your mind!

Imagine running a program by simply thinking. Imagine painting a picture with your innermost thoughts. Or imagine using your emotions and moods to compose a symphony. Now you can do all this and oh so much more, with the power of your mind. It's e asy with MindDrive, the first ever thought-controlled computer interface.

MindDrive uses patented technology to sense the bio-electric signals created by your every thought and emotion (much like a lie detector does). Then its advanced artificial intelligence transforms those signals into commands your computer can unde rstand. You simply slip the comfortable, light-weight sensor onto any finger and let your mind do all the work. With MindDrive's specially designed "mind" games, the whole family can thrill to thought-controlled excitement. You can even use MindDrive to improve your memory and concentration. Unleash the awesome power of your mind.

* Run and control computer programs from your mind - no keyboard, mouse or joystick needed.

* Experience new dimensions in gaming excitement with thought-controlled "virtual reality" action.

* Improve your memory and concentration, and help relieve stress through bio-feedback.

(This thing comes with a program CD called Skier.)

The MindDrive system is #82583 - $149.99

Other program CDs are available;

Mindflight - aliens are destroying the Earth's atmosphere and only you and your 'mind-reading' FLYING PACK (right on the money!!..> Jerry) can stop them. Using ONLY YOUR THOUGHTS to control the action, you'll careen through canyons, rocket unde r bridges, soar around buildings, and blast the aliens out of the sky with your Thought Torpedoes, in a sense-shattering adventure unlike anything you've ever experienced.

* Meticulously detailed 3-D, first-person perspective and a movie-like-story-line combine for hyper-realistic action.

* Thrilling flights send you careening through waterfalls, underground tunnels, twisting canyons, and more.

* Fully thought-controlled. Simply think of where you want to go and the game instantly responds to your thoughts.

#82588 - $39.95

FIB CD - Could you beat a lie detector test? Here's your chance to find out. FIB uses MindDrive's lie detector-like abilities to add an exciting new dimension to the classic game of Truth or Dare. You'll need nerves of steel (and pretty good mind control) if you plan to put one over on FIB. Let your facade slip just a little and you could end up with a two-foot long nose!

* Test your skill as a "fibber" with 4 intriguing games of truth and deception or create your own game.

* Great for parties! You and your friends will have a ball finding out who's telling the truth...and who's not.

* Discover why lie detectors work (or don't work), and how your emotions give you away when you tell a fib.

#82584 - $39.95

Other MindDrive program CDs (all for Windows 95 or Windows

MindMusic - #82585 - $34.95 / MindBowling - #82582 - $34.95

MindGames - #82586 - $24.95 / MindArt - #82587 - $29.95

PinBallMind - #82589 - $34.95

These items are available from a company called

PC Mall at 1-800-555-MALL or FAX (310) 225-4004

or InterNet

KeelyNet is not affiliated with any of these companies or organizations, this information is provided simply for your edification.