Neurosphere

The Human-Human Interface

Z-Wave


Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

I’ve covered Zigbee in past postings. Z-Wave is a competing standard (actually, a proprietary approach) that allows a user to discover Z-wave-enabled controllers around the home. At the recent CEDIA expo of high end consumer electronics, I saw Z-wave lighting (controllers inside the face plate for the wall switch), thermostats, garage door openers and window shades. (I’ve been manually opening and shutting shades over the course of summer days trying to keep air conditioning needs lower – automation would make a big difference.) There are systems that allow the user to open the garage door which signals a pre-set of other settings – heating, lighting – to turn on when you get home. Other systems allow remote Web access to your home controls (don’t give out the password!) I especially like the “self-organizing” bit in this material.

“Zensys is a leading provider of wireless networking technology for control and status reading applications. Our Z-Wave™ technology is an RF based, two-way; mesh network, communications protocol that enables everyday devices to be controlled and monitored wirelessly. Zensys offers a family of low-cost, low-power, integrated MCU/Transceiver chips embedded with Z-Wave, as well as a suite of development tools and services making it easy for companies to develop wireless products for residential and light commercial applications including lighting and appliance control, energy management, access control, security, and building automation.

Z-wave is self-organizing – each node discovers each other, self-healing by routing around dead spots. Each node does not store topology information – important in a network w scarce resources.

Is command – based – requires short acquisition time.”

www.z-wavealliance.org


The Kids Are Alright


Wholeness and Virtual Communities

I have had Neurosphere criticized by privacy advocates as the Panopticon, good only for evil surveillance purposes. This story indicates that kids are more attuned to the benefits, not merely the risks.

“AlwaysOn: What do you think of the phenomenon of being seen and seeing others on the Web? I think this passion to express yourself on, say, a MySpace profile is a generational thing. It’s becoming central to the new social lifestyles of young people.

Ross Levinsohn: I think it’s a sociological thing. The difference in generations is that young people are now programmed. Parents don’t want their kids roaming, so kids have gravitated to the Internet. Instead of going to the mall or the roller rink (as we might have done), they’re going online—and as a result, they’re expressing themselves differently. MySpace has benefited hugely from this trend: People are using their MySpace pages to express themselves. This represents a really interesting sociological change—and one that’s good for some and challenging for others.

Tip o the Neurohat to the AlwaysOn Daily email newsletter.

http://alwayson.goingon.com/homepage


The War on Ourselves Continues


Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Today’s New York Times:

“The great problem is that Al Qaeda has moved far beyond being a terrorist organization to being almost a state of mind,”

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/11/world/europe/11qaeda.html?hp&ex=1155355200&en=eeec0f91cd71e891&ei=5094&partner=homepage

I wrote about this in my book Neurosphere:

“The war on terrorism as proclaimed by President Bush is the incipient form of conflict within a neurosphere, not across borders but within the skin of a single global entity. The war will not be confined to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any small collection of countries. The Al Qaeda network is said to operate within more than 60 countries. It is a stunning fact that they operated most successfully in Florida, a state it will be hard for Mr. Bush to declare war upon. And it seems increasingly clear, after a year of war, that the supply of fresh recruits to the terrorist cause continues to grow.”

Sadly, nothing has changed in the ensuing four years, certainly not in the Bush Administration’s stupid inability to fight this war as anything different from any other game of cowboys and Indians. It is not even about more sophisticated intelligence capabilities to “find” the bad guys. The enemy is truly within – within the borders of the U.K., probably still within the U.S. Bush’s svengali Karl Rove keeps him on a message that makes sense to 51% of the population. Cheney and Rumsfeld keep a defense strategy going that does enriches Halliburton and other contractors and keeps political support coming in from that sector.

What’s still missing is a strategy from the opposition that goes beyond “out of Iraq”, something that reaches not only the strains of thought within fundamentalist Islam, but also the strains of thought within Christian fundamentalism that keep support for Bush’s “us or them” strategy going. A strategy that understands how group minds grow and develop and, so far, fail to truly evolve.


Neural Prosthetics from Honda


Personal Infrastructure

News from a nice portal site on assistive technology.

“Yukiyasu Kamitani and associates from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, together with researchers from the Honda Research Institute in Saitama, have demonstrated a robotic hand that can be controlled solely with the power of brain…The robotic hand’s movements are based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of a person’s brain activity. It bears close resemblance to real hand in the way it performs. This assistive technology solution is a milestone in the progress towards prosthetics and computers solely controlled by thought.”

http://www.axistive.com/16236/robot-hand-controlled-by-thought.html


Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Brain


Personal Infrastructure

Not a neural prosthesis approach, but still building knowledge about the electrical nature of the brain and how enhancing or disrupting existing electrical patterns leads to behavioral changes.

“Dr. Mayberg: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective treatment for major depression, particularly in patients who fail to respond to standard treatments such as psychotherapy or medication. In some patients, medication augmentation strategies can be effective. Most recently, vagus nerve stimulation has obtained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treatment-resistant depression. Other strategies that target the brain more directly, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetic seizure therapy (MST), and DBS, are currently being researched.”

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/520659


Federal Neurosphere Commission


Personal Infrastructure

This is interesting – this is a little forward thinking, even for an agency that is supposed to be forward thinking. Certainly this is coming and a reasoned examination of how/if spectrum policy will affect this emerging group of technologies, but I wonder if some device manufacturers are looking to reserve specific spectrum to set the stage for commercial introductions.

“The FCC yesterday approved a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create a MedRadio band from 401-406 MHz that would allocate an additional 2 MHz of spectrum for radio transmissions from implanted and body-worn medical devices.”

“The Commission is asking for comments on its proposal to provide ADDITIONAL spectrum for use by new medical devices that are in use or soon will be. Implanted or body-worn devices in the future could enable paralyzed individuals to control artificial limbs by thought through wireless interfaces between brain, nerve and muscle… For health care providers and patients, such wireless implant monitoring technologies have the potential to lower medical costs by extending the time between hospital visits and surgical procedures.

The spectrum and operational rules being proposed are intended to ensure that these devices are able to operate effectively.

Comments are due by October 31 and can be filed on ECFS express at

http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/ecfs/Upload


BrainGate


Personal Infrastructure

More on the neural interface from the previous story, and a link to the company behind the technology.

“”The results from the third participant are particularly significant because we have begun to replicate the intuitive control of a computer mouse,” stated John P. Donoghue, Ph.D., a founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cyberkinetics and Director of the Brain Science Program at Brown University. “Such control, including the ability to ‘stop’ the computer cursor, for example, is directly related to a person’s ability to stop other electronically controlled devices, such as a motorized wheel chair. The new data expands our previous results showing that we are able to obtain neural signals in additional participants. We believe these findings are leading to a day when this technology can be used to improve the lives of those who are paralyzed.””

http://www.cyberkineticsinc.com/images/homepage/pic_mainfocus.jpg


Neural Body Mod


Personal Infrastructure

The latest in body mod – interfaces from the brain to the computer.

“Neurologist Leigh Hochberg of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues–including sensor co-inventor John Donoghue of Brown University–placed the tiny sensor containing 100 electrodes, each thinner than a human hair, onto the surface of Nagle’s motor cortex, the part of the brain that governs movement. The sensor registered electrical signals from nearby neurons and transmitted them through gold wires to a titanium base on Nagle’s skull. Cables connected this base to a set of computers, processors and monitors.”

http://tinyurl.com/pfjq4


Body Mod for Meds


The World Right Now

Awareness of the world right now includes the world inside you. Medical monitors get more portable, now wearable. Next stage is internal monitors, which converges with the developing world of sensors. I myself am about to buy the bodybugg Calorie Management System (alas).

“BodyMedia provides continuous body monitoring solutions for individuals, healthcare practitioners, and the broader healthcare industry. Our products accurately monitor health and lifestyle information such as caloric burn, caloric intake, sleep, physical activity duration, and more. Anytime. Anywhere.”

http://www.bodymedia.com/main.jsp


More on Warfighting


Personal Infrastructure

A longer article on the use of “augmented cognition” for military application.

Conversations with computers are usually pretty one-sided: Users may yell obscenities; cursors continue to blink innocuously. But a collaborative effort between the military and industry may one day replace this one-way, futile discourse with systems that understand the user’s cognitive state and then respond accordingly. The implications of this capability reach beyond ensuring that warfighters are primed to receive critical information. It could prove to be instrumental to inventing ways of designing new systems and improving military training.

http://www.afcea.org/SIGNAL/articles/templates/SIGNAL_Article_Template.asp?articleid=1159&zoneid=188