More Brain Stuff

Posted: February 1, 2010 in Braak, miscellanea

I don’t know, I’m just playing around here.  Maybe you will find something useful!  Probably not.

I wrote the other day about making an interface between your brain and common household objects, like your car, or google, or the googlemobile.  But how do you build an interface that relays information BACK to your brain?

There are many ways.  Of the two most obvious, one is really stupid, and the other is completely terrifying.

The most obvious one is:  visually.  A head’s-up display, a little screen somewhere — maybe projected onto your hand, or a conveniently-located large white wall — whatever.  The point is, you’ve got to look at it, and the thing about looking at stuff is that you need to look at other things in order to get around in the world.  We use our eyes, you know?  For seeing.

So, sure, if they could project the stuff right into your eyes, maybe that’d be okay.  Or if it was on glasses, where everything lurked in your peripheral vision.  The problem with this is that we still use our peripheral vision — putting images in your line of sight starts crowding your visual field down.  Okay, whatever, it’s not bad, but I think there’s some other stuff worth looking at.

The second way is terrifying — using that brain thing that I was talking about, you actually start pumping data directly into the brain.  Bypass the sensory organs and let the brain adapt itself to the incoming data stream.  Now, I’ll bet this is possible — the first iterations will probably cause horrible seizures or some shit, and that’s bad.

But what’s really terrifying about it is that signal is going DIRECTLY INTO YOUR BRAIN.  That’s nuts.  That’s, you know.  Computer virus in your head.  Mind control.  MORE SEIZURES.

Whatever, we can’t do that shit anyway.  Before all that, I want to play around with another idea — taking information and crowding it into aspects of our sensorium that we don’t use.

Like, for example:  you know how you sometimes think it’s weird when you don’t have music to listen to?  How common it is for human beings to, when they’re doing something else, to have music on in the background?  WHY THE HELL IS THAT?  How do our brains work, that it’s reasonable that while we’re doing one thing, we want to be listening to something else?

Evolution, I guess.  Our ears have adapted to pay attention to things while we’re digging for roots or harvesting coconuts, so that we don’t get snuck up on by a tiger or some shit.  And now what?  We live in cities, away from tigers, our ears don’t have anything to do.  There are no tigers ready to sneak up on us, so our brain gets bored and tries to find stuff to do with them.

So, here’s some things.  Synaesthesia things.  Let’s say you had a camera on your face (this is brain science, obviously, so let’s say we drill a hole in your forehead to put it in there).  It’s an infrared camera that’s got a pretty small field of vision — maybe one foot diameter circle, &c.  You’ve got a little computer that sees how much white (meaning:  warmth) is in the image, and translates it into a…let’s say a D Minor chord (this is the saddest of all the chords) that’s played over your little bluetooth headset.  Volume is directly related to the amount of white in the image.

So, now, exciting.  You can hear how hot something is by looking at it.  I don’t know what kind of practical value that is — no, wait, okay, here’s a practical use.  Let’s say you’re in the army, and it’s during the day.  You’re looking around in the woods, trying to find something that’s camouflaged.  You don’t want to obscure your entire visual field with infrared vision or whatever, because that makes it hard to see shit.  Now, instead, you use your regular eyes, also you can see color and whatnot, but your ears will tell you when you are looking something that’s out of place in your visual field.  Buzz!

Or, all right.  Let’s say you’ve got a wireless sniffer.  It plays a note of a particular volume when its got an unsecured wireless network in range.  It gets louder the stronger and more networks its got in range.  Maybe it plays the fifth for secured wireless networks, so you can hear if you’ve got unsecured networks in range, it sounds like a C major, it sounds like a G minor if most of the networks are secured.  Hahh.

Okay, maybe here — you’ve got those little rumbly bits that they keep in telephones.  You can wear a little sleeve on your forearm or on the back of your neck, or something.   You can translate all kinds of data into this.  Air pressure maybe, if you’re interested.  You could pick up radio signals or rads and translate the activity into different texture patterns.

Oh!  Most night-vision monoculars and scopes actually use a small infrared light that illuminates the target.  Obviously, you can’t see that light without switching a fair chunk of your visual spectrum over to infrared.  But what if you had a bunch of infrared sensors on your shirt, tied into those little rumbles packs, that buzzed your skin when someone was shining infra light on you?

See?  Uses.

The point is, while I’m all in favor of wiring shit directly into the nerves of your body, before we get to that, I think it might be interesting to explore what kind of data can be shunted into the largely dis-used parts of our sensorium.  We’ve got these really complex sensory organs, and a whole suite of neural pathways designed to interpret data from them, you know?

I don’t know.

  1. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Tapping into your reptilian brain; This is what liquor is for. And artists. Do you want to be that guy who make artists obsolete?

  2. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Why does it seem, that whenever I show-up, everyone else runs away, i.e.:

    “Ugh, not that obnoxious cat again. Someone feed her some cream, then lock the doors.”

    Apparently, I’m bad for business.

  3. braak says:

    I have been drinking a lot of liquor!

    Also, no one has time for your insecurities! If we did not approve of your comments, I would find your and eat your spleen.

  4. V.I.P. Referee says:

    All I’m asking, is that this all be about me. You don’t have to be mean-spirited about it.

  5. braak says:

    Listen — there is no stranger of whom we approve more. Be still. You have won the fight.

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