When Apple unveiled to the world the clever personal secretary we have come to know as Siri, many were excited at the possibilities this new application could bring. Apple itself touted Siri as an ingenious breakthrough and achievement — something that, once again, set Apple apart from its competitors. Of course, the reality is often less romantic than the tale, and while Siri is by no means a failure, there are still some issues surrounding the friendly and altruistic personal assistant. Voice recognition, difficulties with accents and security holes rank among the various issues users have experienced.
While it will take some time to address the different issues surrounding Siri, some hackers have devised a way to get Siri to operate by simply thinking their commands. Users will be able to, in the timeless words of Captain Jean Luc Picard, “make it so” by merely thinking out there instructions.
Achieving this feat was no easy task, but the hackers were able to accomplish their goal in seven steps. For the thought recognition to work, an ECG pad is connected to a user, which collects their brain waves and converts them into synthesized speech, which is then sent via the headphone jack and acknowledged by Siri as a command.
Here is the full seven step process:
1. ECG pads provide raw skin conductivity / electrical activity as analogue data (0-5v).
2. This is plugged into the Arduino board via 4 analogue inputs (no activity = 0v, high activity = 5v).
3. The Arduino has a program burned to its EPROM chip that filters the signals.
4. Josh trained the program by thinking of the main Siri commands (“Call”, “Set”, “Diary” etc.) one at a time and the program where we captured the signature brain patterns they produce.
5. The program can detect the signature patterns that indicate a certain word is being thought of. The program will then wait for a natural ‘release’ in brain waves and assume the chain of commands is now complete and action is required.
6. The series of commands are fed to a SpeakJet speech synthesizer chip
7. The audio output of which simply plugs into the iPhone’s microphone jack
The ambitious venture taken by the hackers, which is being called Project Black Mirror, is in the process of getting off the ground. The group at Project Black Mirror is looking to produce a working prototype and submit the design to funding platform Kickstarter. If all goes well it could certainly change the way we interact with not only our smarphones, but other devices as well.