Update: Some are calling this a fake, which technically wouldn’t be hard to do.
Apart from a press of the home button to initiate Siri, this prototype Siri hack first spotted by IntoMobile is completely thought-controlled. The guys behind Project Black Mirror have recorded brain wave activity with ECG pads, matched the incoming patterns to pre-saved digital patterns saved on a MacBook, then fed the matched commands to a speech synthesizer chip that translates the command to Siri. The video above shows the developers initiating a call, but they say they’ve linked approximately twenty-five brain wave patterns to various Siri-controlled functions, and hope to bypass having to physically press the home button with a fully automated solution in the future. IntoMobile breaks down the intricacies:
1. ECG pads provide raw skin conductivity / electrical activity as analogue data (0-5v).
2. This is plugged into the Arduino board via 4 analogue inputs (no activity = 0v, high activity = 5v).
3. The Arduino has a program burnt to it’s EPROM chip that filters the signals.
4. Josh trained the program by thinking of the main Siri commands (“Call”, “Set”, “Diary” etc.) one at a time and the program where we captured the signature brain patterns they produce.
5. The program can detect the signature patterns that indicate a certain word is being thought of. The program will then wait for a natural ‘release’ in brain waves and assume the chain of commands is now complete and action is required.
6. The series of commands are fed to a SpeakJet speech synthesiser chip
7. The audio output of which simply plugs into the iPhone’s microphone jack.
Siri is arguably the most efficient method of handling at least the most basic tasks on your iPhone, and probably the most robust hands-free solution to using a smartphone to date. However, many have brought up the question of whether or not we want to speak aloud to our devices in social situations. If the end goals of work being done by Project Black Mirror comes to fruition, in the future you’ll be able to simply think of a task you want your iPhone to perform, and traditional voice recognition could become obsolete.
There are already similar projects in the works, although not based on Siri. Canadian company InteraXon demoed their thought-control tech at CES 2011, which works by “converting brainwaves into digital signals”. A video of that technology, which utilizes an EEG headband accessory to monitor overall brain activity, is shown below. The company partnered with developers of ZenBound 2 to add a though-controlled element to their popular iOS game.