A group of hackers claim to have discovered a way to control Siri with only their thoughts. Is this amazing tech or an elaborate hoax?
Think it, speak it, do it. That’s the age-old way of accomplishing goals, and also the way people interact with the iPhone’s new voice-controlled Siri feature. But what if you could skip the “speak it” part and simply think it and then do it. That’s what a group of British hackers claim to have done with their patchwork – and perhaps, fake? – hack of the iPhone 4S.
The men behind Project Black Mirror, first spotted by IntoMobile, say that they have discovered a way to control Siri without having to actually speak to Apple’s sassy new voice search and command feature. Instead, their hack uses ECG pads to recognize brain patterns that have been recorded and mapped into a program that can recognize the patterns. The pads are fed into an Arduino board, which goes to a program that filters the signal, detects the pattern, sends the command to a SpeakJet speech synthesizer chip, and then goes into the headphone jack of the iPhone to send the command to Siri. To make a complicated process simple: the user thinks “Call Lee” and the brain patterns are sent as a command that Siri will be able to understand. It then dials Lee’s phone number.
It all sounds amazing and exciting, but like anything you see on the Internet today, it’s not easy to believe. Commenters and a few sharp-eyed bloggers are calling foul on Project Black Mirror demo videos, claiming that the SpeakJet chip, a critical part of the hack, is not actually connected to anything. How could the group possibly be sending commands to Siri without properly setting-up the chip that supposedly translates the brain patterns to commands the iPhone can actually understand?
Is this a poorly-described set-up, misunderstanding of the implementation, or all just an elaborate hoax to gain Internet fame and money? (A Kickstarter page related to the project is forthcoming.) Watch the video and decide for yourself.
For my money, this is an interesting concept of what could happen, not what’s actually happening. Long before the Wii, Kinect, and Move, I thought recognized brain waves would be the way that users were freed from traditional device controllers. So the thought of a few guys in a spare bedroom figuring out a way to deliver mind control to an iPhone, however elementary and messy the process, is an idea that’s easy to get excited about. I instantly think, “Well if these guys can do it, imagine what Microsoft or Apple could do with all of its money and manpower!”
I’d love to believe that Project Black Mirror is legit and not an Internet hoax or scheme, but I’ve been burnt by too many viral videos to fully trust them just yet. However, I would be ecstatic to learn that my skepticism was unfounded. Then I’d be one step closer to sending the hackers an apologetic e-mail – using my mind instead of a keyboard.