As a musician and songwriter, there have been countless instances in which, while out-and-about, I have come up with ideas for songs or passages that I’ve been excited about, only to forget them by the time I have a means to get them from my head to a more concrete form. Other times, I’ll have access to the necessary tools, but the song or passage has too many elements to interpret at once, so that by the time I “translate” on of the parts, I’ve forgotten the rest. It’s incredibly frustrating; at it’s worst, it can be analogous to losing a child, albeit on a far less tragic and soul-crushing scale.
That’s why I’d love to see the invention of a device capable of reading one’s brain waves as a means of interpreting the music being “played” in one’s head and converting it to a more permanent form which can be played back at any time in the future. To bring this point home to those who aren’t musicians or songwriters, think of what happens when you get a song stuck in your head with which you’re very familiar. You can almost “hear” the song, in it’s full form, being played in your head. Or perhaps you can “hear” other things, for instance the sound of someone’s voice. Imagine if you could use a device which would “record” what you’re “hearing” in your mind’s ear, and play it back for you.
There are devices already in existence that can read one’s brain waves, but the technology is nowhere near developed enough to accomplish the task that I’m suggesting. In order to move forward with this concept, I’d have to research how the current brainwave-reading devices function, what their capabilities and limits are, and how they might be improved.
Virtual reality is a concept which has been embraced by millions since it’s coming of age. Some people spend the majority of their times immersed in virtual environments, whether they be MMORPG’s or something more simple like Second Life. The latter has been used in some cases by Universities for “virtual lectures” and the like. What if we took this a step further, and could use our brains to control a version of our own selves in a global virtual world? The difference between this and the virtual worlds of games would be the fact that like our actual selves, our virtual selves would be unique and unchanging, linked to our own identification information. It would be as close to reality as one could possibly be, with full control over one’s virtual body, unhampered by the limitations of current video games. While it could be used for entertainment purposes, just as one goes out with friends or to a movie, it would be even more effective in the fields of business, customer service and education; the uses of which I’ll describe below.
Nobody likes waiting upwards of an hour to talk to customer service; cable and utility companies come to mind. What if you could simply visit a virtual “store” and speak with someone “directly?” Even if you had to wait, you wouldn’t have the ambiguity of listening to elevator music and wondering when someone might pick up; it would be the same as, say, visiting the Verizon store.
Many people travel across the city, the country or even the world for a simple business meeting. Imagine how much time and money could be saved by having a “virtual” meeting, keeping all the interactivity and person connection as the real thing without the wasted time and money of travelling. It would boost the economy tremendously, eliminating the need for unnecessary expenditures of time and money, instead allowing businesses or governments to allocate these resources to more productive activities.
In the field of education, we’re seeing a growing trend of people taking courses remotely on line. What if we could do that in a more immediate, virtual world? Or see a concert this way? Or the State of the Union? The possibilities are endless.