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New technology paves the way toward mind control

Metamaterials – artificial composites made out of metals or plastics that are engineered to have properties not found in naturally occurring materials – have attracted extensive attention from many fields due to their extraordinary physical properties, and have provided scientists with innovative methods of designing multifunctional artificial materials. 

Recently, their two-dimensional counterparts, called “metasurfaces,” have been found to offer even more amazing opportunities, by providing unprecedented freedom in manipulating electromagnetic waves. A new study published in the journal eLight has now outlined the first step toward real-time, remote, and wireless mind control of these metasurfaces.

Programmable metasurfaces (PMs) with multiple or switchable functions can be realized through on-site programming, and be further integrated with sensors or driven by pre-defined software. Until recently though, the switches among the different functions of PMs relied on manual manipulation, and their operational framework was wire-connected and non-real-time switched. However, a team of researchers from the Air Force Engineering University and the University of Singapore has now proposed the concept of remotely mind-controlled metasurfaces (RMCM) that can use human brainwaves collected in real time and transmitted wirelessly from the users in order to control these materials.

“The power of controlling objects with mind has been a popular fascination of human beings. One possible path is to employ brain signal collecting technologies together with emerging programmable metasurfaces (PM), whose functions or operating modes can be switched or customized via on-site programming or pre-defined software,” the study authors wrote.

The scientists used Bluetooth to transmit brainwaves wirelessly from users in order to control the electromagnetic response of PMs. Such a design offers users a groundbreaking way of manipulating electromagnetic waves by means of their brainwaves, thus coming extremely close to telekinesis – a phenomenon that, until recently, belonged solely to the field of science fiction. 

In future research, the scientists aim to combine this innovative technology with intelligent algorithms in order to improve the efficiency of these processes. RMCMs could find applications in a variety of fields, including health monitoring, 5G/6G communications, and the development of smart sensors.    

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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