(Return of the) Jedi mind trick and the BB-8 robot hack

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This news has been out there for a while, and some would assume it happened in a galaxy far, far away. But it didn’t. It happened here, at IBM, in an office around the corner and down the road.

As a new member of IBM I am constantly inspired by what is to come, the future of technology, and specifically the Internet of Things (IoT) and IBM’s Watson. But frankly I am also incredibly excited by what has already been. This company has been at the forefront of innovation its entire history. And as part of my inductions I get to learn how IBM grew, to understand the progress, and the transformations that have occurred. I also get to see and play about with IBM innovations and new technology, and this is a cool one for any Star Wars fans out there.

As you’ll see from the video above IBM’s Joshua Carr used an Emotiv Insight headset (the headset can be trained to read your brainwaves), and the IBM cloud computing platform to mind control the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ BB-8 app-powered droid.

You may be thinking ‘ok this is cool’ but you’re also probably thinking ‘what’s the point?’ What does it show us?

Partly that fun things can come from seriously powerful technical innovations. It shows us the ways we can inspire young people to get involved in science and maths and technology. It shows us that mind control of technology (at least in the sense of standardised commands) is possible – imagine never needing to press a remote control for your TV, or simply thinking rather than tapping away at a tablet to send emails; you think about wanting a cup of coffee and your kettle starts to boil. Then there’s the possibilities of using this type of technology for healthcare, it could transform the lives of people with physical disabilities, and offer a greater level of independence.

All the tools that Joshua used to hack the BB-8 robot for mind control are available through IBM’s Bluemix platform. Take a look, use your imagination, and get inspired. See how easy it is to use IBM’s IoT toolkits to transform technology.

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