Japan eyes 'mind-reading' devices, robots by 2020

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The Independent Tech

Japan plans to develop "mind-reading" robots and consumer electronics that can be controlled by thought alone and hopes to market them within a decade, the Nikkei daily reported Thursday.

The sci-fi like devices would employ so-called brain-machine interface technology, which analyses users' brain waves and brain blood-flow patterns detected through sensor-mounted headsets.

The envisaged devices would include television sets that can be operated without lifting a finger and mobile phones that send text messages composed purely through thought, the business daily said.

The initiative, to be launched this fiscal year, is a partnership between the government and the private sector, the report said, citing unnamed communications ministry sources.

Other applications could include a car navigation system that searches for restaurants when the driver thinks of having a meal, and air-conditioners that adjust the temperature when people in the room feel too warm or cold.

They could also include robots that know when an elderly or physically disabled person needs help carrying a heavy load, the Nikkei said.

The project would likely include corporate giants including Toyota, Honda and Hitachi as well as the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Osaka University and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, the report said.

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