Tech Innovation

Telepathy cap: Soon it may be possible to transmit our thoughts

Sabine Berger Autorin, Hemd & Hoodie

The start-up company Openwater aims to launch a gadget that is able to give us telepathic abilities in just eight years’ time.

Digitizing an idea straight from our heads, saving last night’s dream at the push of a button or improving our memory — these may all be a reality in just a few years time, according to MIT professor Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen. We may soon even be able to communicate purely via thoughts thanks to a telepathy cap being developed by the start-up Openwater, a company founded by Dr. Jepsen specifically for this purpose.

To achieve this, Dr. Jepsen intends to transform a well-known medical technique into an easy-to-handle format: magnetic resonance tomography (MRT). “I have discovered how to accommodate the functionality of large, multi-million dollar devices into an item of clothing that looks like a standard ski cap,” says Jepsen, who in the past has worked for tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Intel. The conventional use of MRT is to create detailed images of tissues and organs. However, it can now also be used to detect a person’s brain activity and display this as digital images, for example.

Infrared waves visualize thoughts

While traditional MRT operates using magnetic fields and radio waves, Jepsen uses infrared light in her technology. The inside of the cap is lined with tiny, flexible liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which emit electromagnetic light and thus plot the flow of oxygen in the brain. “Our brains are transparent to infrared light,” explains Jepsen.

The technology is already being used to detect conditions such as tumors, hematomas and blocked arteries. Entrepreneur Jepsen believes that the reverse may also be possible; infrared light may be targeted at specific areas of the brain to combat cancer cells, for example. However, the true goal of her research is to digitize and transmit thoughts. With her “thinking cap,” people should be able to both convey their thoughts and read the thoughts of other people.

Market-ready telepathy caps in eight years’ time

Completely new application scenarios are also conceivable, although the ethical implications of these would also have to be considered. “Can the police, the military or even parents force someone to put on such a device?” Answers to questions like these need to be found, according to Jepsen. The technology is also intended to be further developed so that it only works when the user wants it to, allowing the wearer to filter out those thoughts that he does not wish to share.

The technology behind the telepathy caps is already being used to detect illnesses.
The technology behind the telepathy caps is already being used to detect illnesses. Image: flickr.com – Intel Free Press

If Openwater is able to stick to its ambitious road map, the telepathy cap will be available in just eight years time. The first prototypes are set to be delivered to selected partners as early as next year. With this, the race to be the first to launch telepathy technology on the market has begun; in addition to Jepsen, visionaries such as Elon Musk are also working on linking the human brain to a computer.

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