Skip to main content

Microsoft invention could mine cryptocurrency by reading brain waves

Would you accept cryptocurrency as a reward for watching ads? How about if you had to prove you had watched said ads by having your brain waves analyzed? It might sound a bit crazy, but it’s an idea Microsoft lays out in a new patent application titled “Cryptocurrency System Using Body Activity Data.”

Filed in September 2018, but only recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and highlighted by PC Magazine, the application describes a method of how “brain wave or body heat emitted from the user when the user performs the task provided by an information service provider, such as viewing an advertisement or using certain internet services, can be used in the mining process.”

As is described by the patent application, instead of the massive computation work that is required by “conventional cryptocurrency systems,” Microsoft’s hypothesis is that data generated based on the body activity of users can help “solve the computationally difficult problem unconsciously.” Other than brain waves and body heat, the system could also potentially monitor “body fluid flow” and “organ activity and movement.”

All of this would, of course, require biometric reading of users, potentially via attached sensors. As a reward for wearing these, however, the system would then pay out cryptocurrency for completing certain tasks. As the application notes: “The cryptocurrency system communicatively coupled to the device of the user may verify if the body activity data satisfies one or more conditions set by the cryptocurrency system, and award cryptocurrency to the user whose body activity data is verified.”

In addition to watching ads for a set amount of time, the patent application also notes how it could track tasks such as social media, using search engines, sending and receiving email, visiting websites, or using chatbots.

Overall, it leaves a whole lot more questions open than it poses answers. Which cryptocurrency? Would the mining of these currencies be the main benefit for Microsoft or would it be the ability to prompt users to use certain services? And, most crucially of all, will this ever transition from a proof-of-concept to a fully fledged product? As with many patents, there’s a good chance that this is a defensive patent that will never actually be turned into a user-facing product. Nonetheless, it’s another reminder that tech giants are always looking for new ways to keep eyes (and brain waves, organ activity, etc.) on their products.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Windows 11 could finally bring Android apps to the Microsoft Store
samsung announces android apps your phone windows 10

Microsoft is set to talk more about "what's next for Windows" at a  June 24 event, but some of the under-the-hood work on the rumored new Windows 11 operating system might have just been revealed. There is now some evidence that Microsoft could be working on a native Android emulator for Windows, according to a new report from MSPoweruser.

Fueling the report is a specific entry in the changelog for the latest Windows Subsystem for Linux release. The logs have two specific mentions of Android. One highlights "fix android emulator window is not movable when no frame." Another mentions "fix android emulator window doesn't move and crash at minimizing."

Read more
U.K. police expecting to bust pot farm stumble onto cryptocurrency mine instead
Graphics cards in a crypto mining farm.

During a May 18 raid in the U.K., West Midlands Police expected to find a cannabis growing operation after learning about a site stealing electricity on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate. Instead, they found about 100 computers mining cryptocurrency.

The BBC reports that detectives received a tip prior to the raid. Onlookers said that they saw multiple people visiting the site throughout the day and police drones picked up a lot of heat coming from the building -- typically a sign of a growing operation. Western Power Distribution also found that the site was illegally connected to its grid, stealing "thousands of pounds [worth of] of electricity."

Read more
Nvidia nets at least $400 million per year from cryptocurrency mining
RTX 3080 graphics card on a table.

Nvidia's newly launched CMP cards, which are designed for cryptocurrency mining, generated more than $155 million in revenue during the company's fiscal first quarter. Sales of cryptocurrency mining cards are predicted to top $400 million for the current quarter.

The company initially launched its CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processors) as a way to steer Ethereum miners from hoarding its limited supplies of gaming graphics cards. While the CMPs aren't designed for use in a computer, they can be used to mine for Ethereum currency. The company, like others in the semiconductor industry, has been experiencing supply issues of its gaming graphics cards, including the recently launched RTX 3000 series of GPUs. The CMPs were launched as part of Nvidia's efforts to steer cryptocurrency miners away from its main lineup of graphics cards, thereby preserving the limited inventory for gamers.

Read more