Patent Bolt: Samsung patent reveals initial work on brain computer interface

Last Sunday Patently Apple posted a report titled “Apple, Google & Others Preparing for the Coming Glass War.” The report presented a very light look at a next generation computer interface called the “Brain Computer Interface.” Tech companies like Sony, Google and others are exploring such interfaces for future products such as gaming and/or video glasses like Google’s upcoming Project Glass product. It now appears that the story continues with a new Samsung patent that was recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Our report briefly reviews this patent application which covers Samsung’s initial work on a possible future headset that will utilize a brain computer interface.

Wire Me Up!

Getting to the heart of the patent, Samsung states that “The neural activity is tracked on a neural activity detecting device. Preferably, the neural activity tracked includes EEG, EOG, and EMG activity. The electrical signals representative of the neural activity are transmitted via wired or wireless to the control unit. If a predetermined signal is sensed by a detecting device, the same EEG readings may be monitored. For example, the Alpha waves (8-13 Hz) could be affected if the user concentrates on some actions. Thus, if the concentration pattern is detected, the system is responsive to the signal and issue an instruction to take action to “open file”, “close file”, “copy file”, “clicking”, “paste”, “delete”, “space”, or “inputting characteristics” etc. It should be noted that the state patterns of potential users may be monitored before the system is used.

Samsung Patent FIG. 12 shows a diagram of an eye control module.

Eye Tracking to Control the Display

Samsung’s patent points to a mini projection module 230 that may be incorporated into the portable device. This isn’t related to a Pico Projector or the like. Instead, the mini projector of Samsung’s patent is in context with a light source that beams two LED lights into the user’s pupils and detects the backlight of the user’s pupils to track the user’s gaze that could control the cursor or objects on the display.

Samsung’s patent point # 35 states that “The present invention also provides a user control module to control the cursor without mouse or touchpad”. A computing device comprises a display and a detecting device on said display for detecting motion of a user.

The basic components of the control module incorporates the eye, finger or face control modules. The subject’s face, finger, or eye is positioned relative to a sensor so that initially the subject’s gaze is aligned along center line toward a pupil stimulus and fixation target. The eye control module includes sensor and IC to detect eye motion and generate a control signal.

Samsung’s Project Glass

What is Samsung’s patent really about? It’s about being a form of Project Glass. Samsung points out in patent point # 28 that part of this device includes a “head mechanism.” In Samsung’s subsequent patent point # 29 they state: “The portable communicating device includes a transparent substrate without opaque shell to allow the user may see-through the display. Therefore, the present invention provides a see-through display visual effect.”

In a report that we posted a week ago, we pointed to Steve Mann, a pioneer in brain computer interfaces and wearable computing, being asked the question: “Will all computer companies make a version of glass?

Mann’s reply was, “Yes. There will be Apple Glass, and Google Glass, and RIM Glass. These companies are all working on glass. I think everyone is going to be making glass. I think we’re also going to have a glass war instead of a smartphone war.”

Although Samsung’s patent is shown to have been filed in early Q3 2012 under serial number 543983, the fact is that Samsung’s filing clearly states that they’ve been working on this since 2007, just after Apple’s iPhone official rolled out to the market. That’s somewhat good news because it means that the technology may be further along than one might think.

According to Samsung, the invention could apply to a future cellular phone, PDA (personal digital assistant), smartphone, notebook, digital still camera, digital video camera, game players, medium player (MP3, MP4), GPS and the equivalent thereof.


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