One day we’ll all just be uploaded consciousnesses floating around in a Google server farm somewhere. When that happens, you’ll be able to just mind-link with your friends or something. But, for now, communicating with other people means using the traditional senses as a medium. You can speak and someone else can listen, and hopefully understand what you’re trying to convey. At least that was the case until BrainNet made it possible for three people to mind-link in order to play Tetris.
The game is setup with two “sender” players and one “receiver” player. The sender players can see the entire Tetris game screen, but the receiver player can only see the piece that’s currently falling. The bottom of the screen, where the stacked pieces are, is blocked from the receiver player’s view. In order to play, the two senders need to communicate to the receiver how to rotate the current piece and so it can fall into position. The exciting thing is that the communication is handled completely with brainwaves.
BrainNet, developed by researchers from the University of Washington and Carnegie Melon University, ties the three players together with interfaces between their brains and computers. All three get standard EEG (electroencephalogram) brain-computer interface headsets, while the receiver also sits near transcranial magnetic stimulation devices. When all players watch an LED blink at 15 Hz, their brainwaves “sync.” After that, the senders can think about basic instructions, and the receiver will see a flash of light that has been induced in the their mind. While they don’t hear specific instructions, the tests showed that they performed with a much higher accuracy than chance alone.