From the “how the hell did we miss this” department comes word that the U.S. military is hard at work creating “thought helmets” for its soldiers. If fully realized, this mind-interfacing piece of gear would allow for what plebeians would call magic, and Arthur C. Clark would call basic telepathy. The “good” news is the Army believes telepathic communication between soldiers in the field is entirely possible, some day. The bad news is that “some day” is decades away for this incredibly ambitious plan-this ain’t no video game controller, folks.
“Having a soldier gain the ability to communicate without any overt movement would be invaluable both in the battlefield as well as in combat casualty care,” the Army said in last year’s contract solicitation, which was awarded last month to a coalition of scientists and extraordinary gentlemen from the University of California at Irvine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland. “It would provide a revolutionary technology for silent communication and orientation that is inherently immune to external environmental sound and light.”
The system, in theory, would work thusly. First, it would “decode the activity in brain networks” so soldiers could radio commands to their squad simply by thinking of the message. In the system’s early stages (and, again, we’re talking theoretical here), the person on the other end of that thought transmission would hear a robotic voice speaking the command into their headphones. But that’s kind of primitive, don’t you think?
But scientists eventually hope to deliver a version in which commands are rendered in the speaker’s voice and indicate the speaker’s distance and direction from the listener.