Samsung is working on a new project that aims at using the human brain as a control box
The “project Pontis” as called by the Samsung team is a new project that has to do with creating a television set that receives commands from the human brain instead of the alternative remote control. The project is particularly aimed to make entertainment a lot more fun for the disabled people. The company wants to enable “users with physical limitations to change channels and adjust sound volume with their brains.”
The project that was first started by the Samsung’s Swiss operations commenced about three months ago in partnership with the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. The company has, however, demonstrated a second prototype TV yesterday, Thursday at its developer conference in San Francisco.
“How can we provide accessibility to people who cannot move or who have extreme limitations on their movements,” Ricardo Chavarriaga, a senior scientist at EPFL who’s working on the project with Samsung, said during a panel at Samsung Developer Conference. “We’re making tech that is more complex, that is more intelligent, but we should not forget this tech is being made to interface with humans,” he added.
To control a TV with the brain requires a lot of effort, and one of the basic things is to know how the human brain behaves when the user wants to do something like select a movie. However, Samsung and EPFL have to combined indicators from both the environment and brain scans to build a model and apply machine learning to let the user select shows using eye movements and brainwaves. To demonstrate this, a user has to wear a cap-like device with 64 sensors on the head, while looking at an eye tracker. The headset is connected to a computer that’s mirrored to the TV as seen in the image below.
While the current prototype uses an eye tracker, Samsung and EPFL are also working on a system that goes further and relies on brain signals alone for users who aren’t able to control their eyes or other muscles reliably, Chavarriaga said. “One thing we have to take into account is everybody is different,” he said. Currently, the technology has to be tailored to each person because of variations in brains. “We believe we have to do the best for the person, so we have to personalize,” Chavarriaga told.
Samsung plans to work on its second prototype through the first quarter of 2019 and then start tests in Swiss hospitals “where we start to explore how this situation, currently a prototype, … is perceived by patients,” Martin Kathriner, head of public affairs for Samsung Electronics Switzerland GmbH.
While Samsung has not mentioned a specific date for the launch of the product, considering that it is still under a massive construction, it is very important to calm your nerves and not expect to see the device any time soon.