Known as synthetic telepathy, the technology is based on reading electrical activity in the brain using an electroencephalograph, or EEG. Similar technology is being marketed as a way to control video games by thought.
The idea of communicating by thought alone is not a new one. In the 1960s, a researcher strapped an EEG to his head and, with some training, could stop and start his brain's alpha waves to compose Morse code messages.
One of the first areas for thought-based communication is in the gaming world, said Paul Sajda of Columbia University. Commercial EEG headsets already exist that allow wearers to manipulate virtual objects by thought alone, noted Sajda, but thinking "move rock" is easier than, say, "Have everyone meet at Starbucks at 5:30."