Imagine, watching a movie that you can control, story threads and all. The idea is to do so, as a viewer, if wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset. Rachel Metz wrote about it in MIT Technology Review.
Your mind-control over the movie you watch involves your reactions being picked up via the headset; the storyline can be switched depending on the response.
The person behind this is Richard Ramchurn, a graduate student at the University of Nottingham. His bio said that he is a practicing artist working across the mediums of theatre, film and digital technologies.
What actually happens when your headset is on? Depending on the "meanderings of your mind," as Metz put it, scenes, music, and animation change each time you watch it.
The headset is detecting the electrical activity in your brain. Specifically, it is measuring electrical activity within a frequency range that is believed to correspond with attentiveness. Ramchurn's latest film is The Moment.
(Zohair at Security Gladiators discussed Ramchurn's use of "attention data" for The Moment. "The user's attention data, according to one report, has the tendency to rise and fall pretty similar to a sine wave as the user's focus continuously shifts. Eventually though, it ebbs about every six or seven seconds. With this information in hand, Richard used the related natural dips in order to form a signal which would instruct The Moment to actually cut to a different/new shot.")
Metz said the continually computed score "is sent wirelessly to a laptop, where Ramchurn's specially built software uses it to alter the editing of the scenes, the flow of the background music, and more."
The headset is a NeuroSky MindWave, which Ramchurn had used for his first brain-controlled film in 2014 and 2015.
What does his work suggest for the cinematic future? Will we grown accustomed to a brain-computer interface for films where, just as viewers, we can edit the film? A curiously organic form of cinema?
Metz referred to a "two-way feedback loop. The film changes because of how you feel, and the way you feel changes because of the film."
What's next? Nottingham Post said It is being officially launched on June 7. From there it will tour the country in a specially adapted caravan transformed into a mobile cinema.