In an experiment like to send shivers down through the Daily Mail newsroom, the BBC is testing the means for people to control TVs using nothing but their brainwaves.

BBC Digital created the Mind Control TV’ prototype with a company known as The Place.

Cyrus Saihan, head of business development, distribution & business Development, BBC Digital explained the internal prototype was designed to give programme makers, technologists and other users an idea of how the technology might be used in the future. “Our first trial run saw 10 BBC staff members try out the app, and all were able to launch BBC iPlayer and start viewing a programme simply by using their minds. It was much easier for some than it was for others, but they all managed to get it to work.”

The electroencephalography (EEG) brainwave reading headset worn by the user has a small sensor that measures electrical activity in the brain.

One of the objectives is to help users with a broad range of disabilities who cannot easily use traditional TV remote controls or other conventional interfaces. In this instance there may be help for people affected by motor-neurone disease or suffering locked-in-syndrome.

Previously the BBC has experimented with voice control with BBC iPlayer on Xbox One.

Once a certain threshold of concentration has been reached, a message is sent to the tablet to perform an action – in this case, to initially launch BBC iPlayer.

concentrate to enter BBC iPlayer

A screen shot of the experimental app (see the ‘volume bar’ of brainwaves on the left hand side)

Once a user launches BBC iPlayer, they are presented with five of the most popular programmes on at that point in time.

BBC experimental app

A screen shot of the experimental app: ‘meditate’ to open one of the programmes

Each of these programmes is then highlighted, one at a time, changing programmes every 10 seconds. When the programme a user wants to watch is highlighted, they have 10 seconds to concentrate and open that programme so that it starts playing.