Monday, 27 July 2009

FMPD - a screen without a screen

In my last post about future mobile phone design concepts, I talked about the thin film contact lens as screen. This time I'll talk briefly about a more radical possibility - using neurological techniques to place images directly into the brain without light shining on the eye.

Before considering this concept, please take a look at this link, to a technology called Brainport. In brief, Brainport uses electrodes mounted on tongue to transmit images from a head-mounted camera to the brain, in effect enabling the blind to see. This is a laudable objective and a very clever product, for the device appears to work rather well, however this type of technology offers a tantalising possibility for the communication device designer of the future.

Just like the contact lens screen overlays images onto the line of sight, a neural feed like that suggested by Brainport could overlay images without any device in the visual field. In effect, the user would be surrounded by a sphere of virtual screen, but without being encumbered by a device attached to the head.

As ever, there are hurdles to get over before such a technology is ready for commercial exploitation. First of all, its unlikely that the tongue is a practical means of linking such a device to the nervous system - it's quite useful or other things, like eating and speaking, so we need to find another tap into the brain or reduce the size and intrusiveness of the tongue-mounted electrodes. This is a significant challenge as any invasive procedure will make a consumer device impractical for the mass market - perhaps there is some way of externally controlling neurons using e-m radiation? I'll do some research - if any one has any thoughts on this subject please yell!

Next time I'll post about controlling the phone of the future, moving away from the keyboard using non contact or mental control of devices.

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