Dec 4, 2018 Pauliina Alanen
Reardon started his show with a video of a hand moving with a wristband in the arm. As if copying the hand’s movement, a colorful shape on a screen bounced and moved. Later we saw the same video, but the hand didn’t move anymore. Only the electrical impulses of intentions did.
The three founders Patrick Kaifosh, Thomas Reardon and Timothy Machado started CTRL-labs in 2015 to remove the huge gap between human input and human output. As Reardon explained on the Founder Stage, they’re doing this by creating new ways of interaction. Currently, our intentions, the human output, are channeled through devices such as the keyboard and mouse. Reardon firmly believes that these devices limit and mock our skills as humans. He showed Slush a picture of a human driving a car with a smartphone in his hands to emphasize this point.
The question CTRL-labs is striving to answer is how they can make humans more capable. Reardon highlighted that much of today’s technology focuses on making devices more capable, ignoring its limitations of human output. In his opinion, typing things on touchscreen just isn’t enough of an interface to do things fast enough.
The company has created a technology called Intention Capture that works with a wearable wristband reading electrical impulses. Reardon explained the technology through an analogy: the spinal cord is sort of a USB-port for your brain. It allows you to use the skillful part of your body, for instance, moving a keyboard or a mouse. Those digital devices all around us then make the commands we want to make. What if instead of taking the output through those devices, you took the electrical activity directly from your lower nervous system, and use that?
Reardon walked the audience through how their system works. The electrical signal in our nervous system is broken down into individual actions, by which you can command another machine, without actually moving. CTRL-labs is non-invasively picking up to the motor neurons – the brain’s output – which allows them to create their neural interface technology.
Reardon announced that their developer kit, entitled ‘CTRL-kit’ will ship in the first quarter of the upcoming year. The kit will ship include hardware device and CTRL-labs offers an SDK and API. The company wants to offer developers is the ability to bring novel ways to make the human-computer interaction more interesting. In other words, they want the creators to dream up with the potential of their technology.
“With CTRL-kit, you become the controller. Extracting the meanings of your movements. Taking biological neurons, sending that directly into a computational neurons. This way humans can dominate those computational neurons with their own neurons, to leverage things like machine learning.” Reardon explained.
Reardon encouraged the audience to leave behind the past of devices forcing us to do what they want. With neurocontrol, the problem is not science, it’s your imagination. “Intention caption is really universal control”.
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