Walt Disney is famously quoted as saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Thanks to Thinker Thing, Disney’s quote may no longer be metaphorical.
Thinker Thing is an Chilean company that aims “to create the software to interface the latest neuro-technological equipment with the latest in 3D printing machines to literally make objects with the power of thought.” Sounds far-fetched, but Thinker Thing creators have already done so to make a small toy-like arm. Here’s how it works.
First, users start by donning an Emotiv EPOC headset that uses an array of sensors to measure electrical signals in the brain that are associated with feelings and expressions. Next, Thinker Thing software shows users a series of basic, on-screen shapes. As those shapes begin to mutate and evolve, users can approve or disapprove each change according to the object they have in their mind. The EPOC headset transmits these thoughts to the system, which eventually whittles the user’s idea into a design that can be 3D printed.
According to the CEO,
When I was a child I used to think how incredible it would be to just imagine a thing and it would simply appear, ready made. This might still seem like science fiction, but amazingly the technology needed to make this a possibility is already in existence today, all that is missing is a creative approach to build the interface between mind and machine. As any parent will tell you a childs imagination is boundless. My own son, Noah, currently lacks the motor skills to use a pencil well, yet he finds it easy and intuitive to navigate a touch tablet interface. What if we could create interfaces directly to the imagination, allowing the creation of real physical objects from thought. Our first prototype will utilize the EmotivEPOC, a high resolution neuro signal acquisition and processing wireless neuroheadset to collect signals from the brain.
Our software will allow the user to evolve 3d models with the power of thought which will then be created in ABS plastic using a MakerBot Industries Replicator, the latest in desktop 3d printing technology. Neuro technology is in its early stages and at present we can detect emotions such as excitement or boredom and cognitive thoughts such as push and pull. The technology will of course improve, but even with these simple control methods we believe we can evolve a 3d object over a number of steps by detecting the user’s emotional response to design changes. The User will be stimulated by a number of images, their emotional response logged and new designs instantaneously evolved based on this information over several iterations. The users thought patterns and emotions will, in this way, evolve and define a 3d object which will then be created in ABS plastic with the latest in 3d printer technology. To be able to design and create interfaces of the mind Thinker Thing have been working alongside neuroscientists to understand the workings of the Brain, Electroencephalography (EEG) activity and biofeedback learning methodology.
To bring their child-like sense of creation to broader audiences, Thinker Thing is even taking their show on the road. The Chilean government has funded a traveling art exhibition called “The Fantastical Mind Creatures of Chile.” Children from across the country will get the opportunity to create creatures from their imaginations and potentially have them displayed in galleries.
Consider me sold. The only problem is that I have a pretty screwed up imagination and am actually a bit afraid of what the 3d printer will try to replicate from my brain.