In the 1996 box office drama “Phenomenon,” John Travolta portrays a character who acquires the ability to move objects with his mind. The “phenomenon” he displays is known as telekinesis. It’s a fascinating power that may seem like something for sci-fi fans to embrace, but could telekinesis exist in real life? You bet! Already, the science is out of the starting blocks – with proof that the human brain generates electrical impulses (brainwaves) in the process of thinking.
Professors Shaobo Qu and Jiafu Wang from Air Force Engineering University, and Professor Cheng-Wei Qiu from the National University of Singapore envision an unlimited future for telekinesis.
Metamaterials, the surfaces of which are called metasurfaces, are any materials engineered to have a property or properties that do not occur in nature. They have attracted extensive attention from many fields due to their extraordinary physical properties. The work has provided researchers with new concepts for designing artificial materials, engineered for greater specificity of use or for multiple functions.
In this latest research, scientists theorized that collecting brainwaves and using them as the control signals of metasurfaces would allow the users to control the metasurfaces with their minds. Through on-site programming, materials could be engineered for self-adaptability, significantly improving the response rates of materials by removing human involvement. This development would mark an enormous step towards truly intelligent metasurfaces, according to researchers.
The research team achieved control remotely by transmitting brainwaves wirelessly from the user to the controller via Bluetooth. Analysis shows that the user’s brainwaves directly controlled the outcome. The research team hopes to combine this with intelligent algorithms which improve the processes in the future.
Scientists believe that their work can be readily extended to other mind-controlled functional or multi-functional metasurfaces. It may find applications in areas as diverse as health monitoring, 5G/6G communications, and smart sensors.
Their research is published in the open access journal eLight.