Control lights with your mind!

With the days of the light switch supposedly numbered, Philips is now attempting to take lighting control into a whole new realm by allowing users to turn bulbs on and off just by thinking about it.

The Dutch lighting giant has co-developed a “proof of concept”  that would allow people with degenerative nerve disease and impaired motion to command lights through mental instructions. Philips worked with technology and consulting firm Accenture.

The kit includes a headset that scans brainwaves and connects them to a tablet computer that transmits lighting commands to the Philips Hue lighting control system. Philips Hue is a wireless system, usually driven by a touch pad and dial, that turns LED lights on and off and that can adjust brightness and colour.

The system also controls Philips medical devices and Philips smart TVs, according to a press release. It includes a wearable display that provides visual prompts to help the user navigate through a menu. The tablet also supports commands by eye and voice.

Philips said it has tested the technology in a simulated home environment and not on real patients. The headset comes from Emotiv Systems, an Australian company.

“This proof of concept shows the potential of wearable technology in a powerful new way —helping people with serious diseases and mobility issues take back some control of their lives through digital innovation,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer.

In a related video, Philips noted that the concept “is not, nor is it intended to be, an available product.”

But in the slow summer season of news, it is good to ponder the possibilities of technology.

And while Philips is contemplating the concept for people with motor neuron disease, it seems like an idea that could one day work its way into general lighting controls, further confining the humble light switch to history.

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Top photo: On her mind. The Emotiv headset picks up brain signals that can control light.

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Did you ever think you could start a barroom brawl by mentioning "lighting control"? It almost comes to that in this video: