Microsoft Patents Mind Reading Method

Oct. 17, 2007
Brings new meaning to the term, "User Interface"

A recent story in the New Scientist uncovers a patent application filed by Microsoft that it says solves the age-old problem of subjectivity.

In the application, the company states that it is hard to properly evaluate the way people interact with computers since questioning them at the time is distracting and asking questions later may not produce reliable answers. According to Microsoft, "Human beings are often poor reporters of their own actions."

Instead, the New Scientist reports that "Microsoft wants to read the data straight from the user's brain as he or she works away. They plan to do this using electroencephalograms (EEGs) to record electrical signals within the brain. The trouble is that EEG data is filled with artefacts caused, for example, by blinking or involuntary actions, and this is hard to tease apart from the cognitive data that Microsoft would like to study."

Basically, the researchers want to be able to sort cognitively useful data from cognitive chaff. Interestingly, the possible user brain states that Microsoft lists in the patent app are: interruptability, cognitive workload, task engagement, communication mediation, interpreting and predicting system response, surprise, satisfaction, and frustration.

Wonder if that last one was the impetus for the research?

Read the full Microsoft mind reading patent application here.

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