Mind-controlled Siri likely a hoax

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Mind-controlled Siri likely a hoax

Remember last week's TUAW post about the Project Black Mirror guys who were doing the research into a mind-controlled iPhone 4S using an Arduino microcontroller, some ECG pads to pick up the brain waves, and voice synthesis software? Well, it appears that despite the impressive video, the entire thing may be a hoax.

The Verge is reporting that a company that does real research into thought control of devices has posted a blog entry debunking the setup. For the first thing, the researchers at InteraXon were concerned about something that I questioned while writing up the TUAW post -- why were these guys using electrocardiogram (ECG) pads instead of electroencephalogram (EEG) pads to pick up the brain waves?

The second concern that the company picked up on was the claim by the Project Black Mirror team that they were measuring brain activity on a scale of 0 to 5 volts. InteraXon notes that brain wave activity is measure in microvolts. InteraXon's COO Trevor Coleman says that there's "no way they could detect any meaningful brainwave signals through that setup."

To top it all off, Coleman says that the Project Black Mirror guys are making false claims about being able to decode such complex thoughts as "Call" or "John", noting that the ability to do so is about 15 years off. Emotiv, another company working full-time on thought control of devices, is able to get a small amount of control from a far more complex setup using 14 EEG inputs.

Several eagle-eyed TUAW readers also pointed out that the circuit board was flawed, as the speech synthesizer circuitry was shorted to the Arduino. Until the Project Black Mirror team 'fesses up to a hoax or tells the world just how they're allegedly achieving such amazing results, I'd guess that their Kickstarter fundraising days are on hold.

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