This entry was posted on Sep 14 2009 by

The Future Is Now (or it will be soon) Exhibit B

In the future world of The Surrogates, the secondhand lifestyle practiced by the citizens of Central Georgia Metropolis is made possible by the VR Link, a headset worn by the operator that translates their thoughts into real-time commands acted out by their surrogate, while at the same time sending sensory information from the surrogate back to the operator.  A fictional conceit, but maybe not as fictional as I originally presumed—the previous installment of The Future Is Now shows that roboticists are already solving the first half of this equation.  But who knew the technology that would allow us to command machines by thought was soon to be available in our own homes?

That’s what the people behind Mindflex would have us believe.  J Chris Campbell and I wandered into the Mindflex booth at this year’s Comic-Con International, where an eager PR woman explained that Mindflex was a game, the object being to maneuver a ball through an obstacle course using only your mind.  Your brain’s mental activity activates a fan in the base of the game, or so the sales pitch goes, which in turn pushes the ball into the air (steering is achieved through the turning of a dial).  Mr. Campbell was the first to play guinea pig:


J Chris Campbell - Mindflexin'

(For those of you wondering why there’s no picture of me mindflexing, it’s because when I donned the headset . . . nothing happened.  Concentrate as I might, the ball wouldn’t budge.  Fearful of what such a result implied about my brain, I returned the headset to the table and slowly backed away.)

The skeptics among you may suggest that this is all a hoax, that the little clip dealie on Mr. Campbell’s ear is responding to fluctuations in his blood pressure, and the headband is merely a red herring.  I say nay!  If that were true, then how do you explain the clearly visible waves of mental fortitude emanating from the area of Mr. Campbell’s head that houses his brain?  Photographs do not lie.  Still not a believer?  Then pick up your very own Mindflex when it’s released this October and give it a think.

It’s remarkable how quickly technology can go from cutting edge to parlor game.  All of this reminds me of a conversation I had a few months back with Chris Staros, co-publisher of Top Shelf.  I was telling him about a line of National Geographic kids’ toys that included such things as a metal detector and a parabolic microphone, astounded that what was considered high-end tech when I was a kid (or in the case of the Little Tikes underwater digital camcorder, downright fanciful) was now ubiquitous and cheap.  Chris remarked, “If Hitler had today’s toys, he would’ve won the war.”

The times they are a-changin’.

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