APR 24, 2017 6:20 AM PDT

A Device That Lets Humans Control Turtles With Their Minds

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Mind control is a form of technology that’s still distant in the future and really only exists in science-fiction today. Regardless, we are getting closer to the unlocking the secrets of mind control as our understanding of how the brain works grows and the capacity and complexity of mental experiments continues to increase.

From what we understand today, it’s possible to convert electrical signals from our brain activity to computer binary language to understand what’s going on in the mind. While this isn’t a form of mind control, it’s an important step in the process of unlocking the secret to our minds and has made things such as neuro-connected bionic arms possible.

Using the same electrical signals that have been used to control artificial appendages previously, scientists from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have proven how it’s possible to manipulate other organisms’ actions. An experiment described in the Journal of Bionic Engineering demonstrates a primitive form of ‘mind control’ with turtles.

To make this possible, a special device gets attached to the shell of the turtle, which has all kinds of gadgets and gizmos attached to it. Among those are a camera, a Wi-Fi radio, a servo motor, and a battery. Everything is powered by a Raspberry Pi miniature computer.

A rendering of how the turtle's mind manipulation system works. Image Credit: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

The servo motor is attached to a special blind that rotates from one side to the other based on the signal the Wi-Fi transmitter receives from the human controller. There is a cut-out in the blind so the turtle can see, but since it can be rotated, the controller has full control over which eye(s) can see forward.

When the blind is positioned for both eyes to see, the turtle typically behaves normally and goes about its forward-moving business. On the other hand, when one eye is covered by the blind, the turtle begins to walk in the direction of the eye that can see, which is an effective manipulation of the data the turtle’s brain takes in with its eyes.

By rotating the blind the other way, it covers the eye that could see previously and exposes the other that was hidden previously, which in turn forces the turtle to walk the other way.

The human controller uses a special display on their head that shows footage from the turtle’s shell-mounted camera. This same gizmo also reads electrical signals from the human controller’s brain, and it’s programmed to recognize signals that convert to either “left,” “right,” or “idle.”

Related: A car that can be controlled by the human brain?

In doing so, the brain wirelessly controls the servo motor mounted on the turtle over the Wi-Fi connection, so in essence, the brain is actually manipulating the turtle’s judgement in terms of which direction to go by taking advantage of the creature’s innate escape behavior.

While it’s not a direct wire-to-wire brain control like you see in the science fiction movies, it is quite literally just like “hacking” the turtle’s mind by taking advantage of a bug in their thought process. Even better is it doesn't require any surgical implants, which means this method has its benefits.

While it’s definitely primitive in its current state, this brain control interface opens the door to future advancements in human-animal brain interaction devices that could be used for a wide variety of applications, including but not limited to rescue missions.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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