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Biotech Science Technology Hardware

High-Tech Glasses Help Improve Memory 272

Posted by timothy
from the unless-you-forget-where-they-are dept.
unassimilatible writes "MIT will reportedly announce new high-tech glasses which they claim will improve memory by up to 50%. The spectacles are implanted with a CPU that sends messages in the form of light to a mini TV screen on the glasses. The messages - like someone's name, or a word like keys or medicine - flash before your eyes at 180th of a second. Pardon me, but I'll wait for the reviews, since I am still smarting from buying those X-ray glasses in the back of magazines." These "memory glasses" were also discussed at the recent International Symposium on Wearable Computers.
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High-Tech Glasses Help Improve Memory

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  • by Hi_2k (567317)
    Why stop at flashing names for a second? If we can get these advanced enough, they may well be able to serve as a monitor for a PDA, Gameboy, or wearable PC. I'd love to surf the web with my sunglasses while sitting in class.
    • Sitting in class... taking a test in class...

      Also, would a beowulf cluster of these be useful to arthropods with multifaceted eyes?

      I was going to make another karma-whoring joke, but I can't remember the name of that actress, with the hot grits and all... better find my glasses...
      • Sitting in class... taking a test in class...
        It's called "cheating"... and the consequences of getting caught *FAR* outweigh the risks involved.

        At least for people who have had to pay for their own education... spoiled rich kids that get stuff handed to them might not actually have that much of a clue yet.

  • by ArsonPanda (647069) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:18AM (#7317004)
    Really facinating shtuff. The HUD was wired to a wearble pc setup, so it could display other things, but whenever you looked at someone wearing a namebadge with an IR transmitter (sorry, no facial recog), it would flash their info on your screen, too fast to consiously notice it, but enough to subconciously trigger recall.
    • People IDing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Animats (122034) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:00AM (#7317156) Homepage
      Another reason to implant RFID tags in people.

      Killer app: once RFID tags are in garments in stores, this could indicate all the ones that would fit you. Shoppers at sales would love this.

      • Killer app: once RFID tags are in garments in stores, this could indicate all the ones that would fit you. Shoppers at sales would love this

        Not only would the shoppers love it but everybody else who has to see your pant size is about 5 too small.
    • So it has been shown that subliminal messages work now? I thought it was proven they don't.
      • No, that doesn't mean that. There is ample evidence collected over some 40 years (but mostly from early 80ties) that stimuli can be too weak to be conciously noticed but have a measurable effect on cognitive processes. To what ends these effects can be exploited is not active research area of cognitive psychology.
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday October 27, 2003 @10:27AM (#7318892) Homepage
        So it has been shown that subliminal messages work now? I thought it was proven they don't.

        No, all that was actually proven was that James Vicary, the guy who claimed to have improved popcorn and coke sales with subliminal images at a movie theater, was a liar. In reality, a "subliminal image" of a bag of popcorn on a movie screen has a very minimal effect on your desire for popcorn compared to the sight and smell of actual popcorn when you walk through the lobby. The notion was that the "subliminal image" had a disproportionately greater effect on your desire for the product than the magnitude of the stimulus could account for. This notion was a crock of shit.

        Now these glasses, on the other hand, aren't trying to sell you popcorn. They're passing off information our brains are already looking for, which does work to some degree. The debunking of subliminal messages never addressed whether or not we could see and register the images, only that they had no effect on our desire to buy the product.

      • Subliminal messages do work for helping you to remember something which you are already trying to remember. The classic advertizing scheme would work if the viewer was trying to remember what a bag of popcorn looks like, but if the viewer is trying to do something else (like watch a movie), it has no more effect than any other unimportant stimulus. And for the people who can't remember what popcorn looks like, you can just have a picture of it on a normal sign, and they'll remember it fine.

        This is, in part
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by CSharpMinor (610476) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:18AM (#7317009)
    So what happens if I forget my glasses?
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:18AM (#7317010) Homepage
    Imagine hacking someones glasses to say "Kill your boss....kill your boss" Or, Kill yourself". Of course, you could have it the other way to say positive things that would help you out Psychologically .
  • Humorous hack: have it flash an image of a penis. If Fight Club has taught us anything (other then how to make soap), it has certainly taught us the benefits of subliminal images.
  • Made by MicroOptical (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:23AM (#7317033) Homepage Journal
    and like everything made by MicroOptical they're "not on the market yet". Vapour.
    • by dissy (172727)
      > Made by MicroOptical and like everything made by MicroOptical they're "not on the
      > market yet". Vapour.

      Fortunatly for this project however, every item I would need to build this setup myself is available right now.
      As a matter of fact, the only part I cant have this very second is the software (Designing something from scratch to emulate someone elses software is easier than totally making it from scratch however)

      HUD glasses have been available for a couple of years in different forms.
      The wearable
    • MicroOptical's stuff isn't vapor; I've actually used one of their displays, which was all nicely packaged, set up to attach to glasses, and so forth.

      They seem not to be on the market yet primarily because the general market for them does not yet exist (in part because they don't sell reasonable driver hardware for the part that's at the other end of the wire from the glasses). They may also still be working on being able to mass-produce them (not too long ago, they had them available, but they were made b
  • by cujo_1111 (627504) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:25AM (#7317041) Homepage Journal
    In other news, beer glasses have been found to reduce your memory retention by more than 50%...
  • Hmm.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by NegativeK (547688)
    Subliminal porn.. It's gotta happen sooner or later..

    Hey, I'm not actually typing this, am I? Wait.. The cursor is moving to the submit button! Nooo, sto
  • by Toasty16 (586358) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:29AM (#7317053) Homepage
    "The messages -- like someone's name, or a word like keys or medicine -- flash before your eyes at 180th of a second. It's too fast for the eyes to notice, but not the brain."

    Drat, i cant find a good link about about these glasses, i saw them before at skool and they help you remember what people said!

  • testing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glenn1you0 (685156)
    Could you use these while taking a test - claiming that they don't so much give you the answer like a cheat sheet, rather, subliminal cues that help your recall like a mnemonic device might? Yeah, right. ;-)
  • Just wait until these hit the non-medical market. Then imagine advertising - browsing the web on portable devices for example.

    I think you can see where this will go.

    At least the pop-ups will only last 180th of a second ;)

  • Could this be learned for generalized learning? Could I load "Mathematical Ecology I" into the device controlling the glasses and learn something from it? Perhaps equations? Probably not learn, but memorize, drill?

    Basing off of what little I know about the way human being learn, I can't imagine these could be used for learning of a subject not already known, but I bet they could be used for review or memorization. Neato.
  • by tessaiga (697968) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:43AM (#7317100)
    Looks like another Media Lab project; you can link to the project homepage here [mit.edu].

    Personally I'd find it great if they could add voice recognition to it. One of my biggest weaknesses is remembering new names, especially when I'm introduced to a whole bunch of people one after the other. (I remember a job interview where I was taken on a tour of the building, and met around 10 people in 15 minutes. Then near the end of the tour, one of those people joined us for the rest of the interview, and I was trying desperately to remember which one he was :) ). Being able to have it dynamically associate people's faces with names and display a prompt would be a huge assist.

  • by Will2k_is_here (675262) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:45AM (#7317106)
    "How can someone with glasses that thick be so stupid?"
  • Subliminal Messages? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Webtommy88 (515386) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:47AM (#7317112)
    It looks like the text flashed onto the eye quickly is used as a primer to get you thinking about a certain thing and thus a memory aid.

    From a Psych 101 example:

    Whats a popular laundry detergent? Answer after you have read this list:
    - Moon
    - Ocean
    - Water
    - Ebb
    - Beach

    If you answered Tide detergent, congradulations, you may have been "primed" into answering that. Admitedly Tide has a good market share in the laundry detergent but the priming effect can be demonstrated with other non-local examples. (I belive this works best if you live in Canada)

    I was under the impression that flashing text quickly so that your eye doesn't notice it was just another form of subliminal messaging...

    I was also under the impression that these types of subliminal messages don't work...

    So can anyone sort this out? I must be confused about something.

    More than that, if TV's or some permutation of a TV in the future can do this, whats to stop companies from flashing "BUY COKE" every 180th frame.
    • by silentbozo (542534) on Monday October 27, 2003 @12:58AM (#7317151) Journal
      Actually, I thought "Bleach". You might want to remove "Beach" as a primer...
    • The fact that its not legal would be whats to stop it.
    • > whats to stop companies from flashing "BUY COKE" every 180th frame.

      Because the coca cola company has trademarked it.

      Read up on your IP law.
      • "Let's sue Miramax."

        "Why?"

        "Because they put 'BUY COKE' in subliminal messages in their movie"

        "But we paid them to do that!"

        "So? I'm bored."
        • "But we paid them to do that!"

          I see what you're saying. But if subliminal ads were effective, it's quite possible that a theater owner (whose resale of Coca-Cola is a big part of lobby profits) would have incentive to insert those messages, without encouragement from Cocacola Corp itself.

          In that case, he'd truely be sullying their name by association with dubious techniques.
    • by John Hurliman (152784) on Monday October 27, 2003 @03:14AM (#7317478) Homepage
      The fact that NTSC is 29.97 frames per second?
    • What happens if we answered Era to the question?
    • Actually, I was thinking "Tide" before I read the first item in the list. Tide's marketing is a little too good; I think you need a better example. And put the list before the question too, or maybe put the question in the middle of the list.
    • If you answered Tide detergent, congradulations, you may have been "primed" into answering that.

      Hmm, actually, I thought "Surf" - gotta be careful there that you don't find yourself subliminally advertising a rival brand!
    • I think subliminal messages can reinforce or modify the effect of explicit messages given around the same time, but they cannot by themselves influence your behaviour over a longer period. So subliminal advertising inserted randomly into films or TV won't work (and is banned in some places, anyway), but subliminal images in an advertisement might make it more effective.
    • by edibleplastic (98111) on Monday October 27, 2003 @07:37AM (#7318042)
      I was under the impression that flashing text quickly so that your eye doesn't notice it was just another form of subliminal messaging...

      I was also under the impression that these types of subliminal messages don't work...

      So can anyone sort this out? I must be confused about something.


      Sure. What we have here in the glasses is exactly as you stated -- a prime. The idea behind priming is that if you flash a semantically related word right before certain kinds of decisions, the semantic links are strengthened, or "primed" so you are slightly more likely and slightly quicker to respond with a particular response.

      If I recall correctly, 180 ms is not fast enough to be undetectable. It is, however, fast enough so that your eye won't be able to saccade over to it before it disappears. (A saccade takes approximately 200ms) This means that for all intents and purposes, you probably won't be fully aware of what it says, though you might be aware that something was flashed, if you were paying attention.

      So the idea (as I understand it) is that if the glasses flash a person's name very briefly, you'll be more likely to respond with that name if you are put in a situation where you have to recall it, as the links to it have been strengthened.

      As for your question about subliminal messages, I think what you're referring to is the infamous idea that if you flicker pictures of Coca Cola between the frames of a movie, people are more likely to go buy a coke. Well, it's true that this kind of strategy doesn't work -- there's a huge difference between having Coke semantically primed and carrying out the complex behavior of buying a coke (you have the time delay, first of all, which diminishes the activation, the planning required to buy a coke, etc...)

      The priming effect is real, but very small, usually only detectable in terms of milliseconds or trends. All in all, recall is the type of task that priming can help in, so this may be very useful. But displaying "Buy Coke" or "kill your boss" really isn't going to do anything at all.
  • If only everyone would take a lesson from the military [slashdot.org] and wear RFID badges, this would be _really_ useful.
  • They're not really "memory glasses" so much as they are "subliminal message" glasses. That is to say, they pop you a little message that after awhile you eventually log down automatically from your subconscious. This is much the same as ads for soft-drinks etc that were placed in theatres between frames before it became illegal (except in this case it would be opt-in and therefore presumably legal).

    My main concern would be whether or not these things might display messages other than the ones intended? Wh
    • This is much the same as ads for soft-drinks etc that were placed in theatres between frames before it became illegal (except in this case it would be opt-in and therefore presumably legal).
      There was opt-in at the movies, too, you know.
  • How is this any better than writing a person's name and phone number on your hand? But seriously what are the practical benifits? It's not really helpful in social situations since you would need to program it to display ALL the names of people whose name you forget ALL the time.

    Glasses such as these are only useful if they display the information you need WHEN you need it. Add speech and facial recognition to the system and then you'll have a truely useful product.
  • IMPROVE memory? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:09AM (#7317196)
    Sorry, but I don't think this will improve memory. Subliminal clues may help you when you are wearing the glasses, but I bet that when you don't wear them, you won't be able to remember at all, because you will have learned to rely on them, rather than your memory. They don't assist memory, they replace it.
  • by NOT-2-QUICK (114909) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:12AM (#7317201) Homepage
    Perhaps it is just me, but these seem as though they would be an obvious target for next generation marketing campaigns.

    As per the article, they are triggered into action via RF. I am in Tokyo right now and the sheer magnitude of visual input from everything from neon to big screen televisions to giant posters is almost paralyzing at times. I am afraid to even contemplate how this annoyance would be compounded thru the use (and surely abuse) of this type of technology by the marketing drones of the world.

    And then, there is always the conspiracy theorist angle. What if subversive powers (governmental or otherwise) tapped into this type of technology to recruit and/or spread propaganda. It would completely redefine everything from armed forces and/or terrorist recruitment all the way up to presidential elections.

    Even worse, with the subliminal nature of this tech, you might not even realize at first why purchasing a copy of M$ Office 2003 seems like such a great idea all of a sudden, why you are suddenly craving some KFC only minutes after eating, or why you have completely changed your opinion of Dubya...

    Scary shit if you ask me...

    - n2q
    • "Even worse, with the subliminal nature of this tech, you might not even realize at first why purchasing a copy of M$ Office 2003 seems like such a great idea all of a sudden, why you are suddenly craving some KFC only minutes after eating, or why you have completely changed your opinion of Dubya..."

      You know.....you don't HAVE to wear them. Well, maybe you will, if they pass a law that states that all tinfoil hats have to be equiped with these.

    • Political advertisers already do this on television. Those are just the ones we know about, because they have a tendency to get called on it. And there's plenty of evidence from psychology that this advertising technique has some effect.

      I doubt it could cause overnight fundamental changes in the way a person thinks. Then again, sometimes a slight shift is all that's really wanted. And an accumulation of slight shifts can amount to a fundamental change in democratic opinion.

    • It's not so scary once you know that subliminal suggestion doesn't work [straightdope.com].
    • by lyonesse (537939) on Monday October 27, 2003 @10:05AM (#7318734)
      i'm one of the authors on the paper, and you should check out the section on "miscues" for why this doesn't work.

      subliminal cueing works like this: let's say you teach somebody some name-and-face pairs -- "anne" and "becky". then you show them anne's face and subliminally cue with "anne", and you can improve the person's likelihood of remembering that name.

      but let's say you "miscue" -- you show them anne's face but subliminally cue with the name "becky". they are *not* likelier to then type "becky" -- but they *are* likelier to correctly type "anne"! this is the really weird and interesting part of our findings.

      we hypothesize that there is some of what psychologists call "spreading activation" taking place: the miscue helps you remember other things you learned in the context of the experiment, but doesn't interfere with the actual production of the correct answer.

      anyway, this is why subliminal advertising doesn't work. if you see the word "coke" but what you want is "lemonade", maybe you are likelier to think about getting a drink, but you'll likely get yourself a lemonade rather than a coke.

      we have some preliminary data showing that *overt* cues don't work that way. if we show the name "becky" with anne's face in a non-subliminal way, then subjects appear to type "becky" a lot of the time. this is probably why overt advertising actually does work, too.
    • And then, there is always the conspiracy theorist angle. What if subversive powers (governmental or otherwise) tapped into this type of technology to recruit and/or spread propaganda. It would completely redefine everything from armed forces and/or terrorist recruitment all the way up to presidential elections.
      Or they could force the people to wear magic green glasses 24h a day. :)
    • Yvan eht Nioj.

      Conspiracy? Never.
  • Back in April, Scientific American Frontiers [pbs.org] had part of an episode [pbs.org] (video here [pbs.org], transcript here [pbs.org]) that talked about this same thing - including face recognition, with a blip of 1/3 of a video frame... I forget whether video frames are 24 or 30 frames per second, but if it's 30, than it would be consistent with the article above.
  • Dressed up with such dorky glasses nobody will forget you anyway!

  • by Bakajin (323365) on Monday October 27, 2003 @01:56AM (#7317315) Homepage Journal
    Since wearable computing and its surrounding technology is almost definately going to mature much faster than something as far off as optical implants that can do the same trick without glasses, I wonder if people will stop using lasers and contacts to fix their eyes because they will want to wear glasses as a utility. In fact people with perfect vision might even start wearing glasses.
  • When Opti-grab came out, I thought it was the greatest thing ever, and I bought a pair. And this is the result. (Mr. Reiner removes his pair of dark glasses to reveal...) This little handle is like a magnet, your eyes are constantly drawn to it and you end up cock-eyed. Now as a director I am constantly using my eyes and this Opti-grab device has caused irreparable harm to my career. Let me show you a clip from my latest film where my faulty depth perception kept me from yelling cut at the proper time. (sce
  • If the OS for the glasses comes from Redmond it will flash "Save Money With Windows Server 2003" just like ./ banner adds.
  • Augmented Reality? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Monday October 27, 2003 @03:10AM (#7317468) Homepage
    Personally, I'm more intrigued by their augmented reality wearable computing research. Instead of something subliminal, it displays the information next to the persons image, so that you can read it, scroll through it, etc. You could retrieve info based on past conversations, their name, their phone number, and other useful things. I personally think that has a MUCH greater chance of being picked up by the average consumer than this thing.

    Does anybody have any information on affordable wearable computers (with the glasses and all) that you don't need a computer engineering degree to put together?

  • Quoth the author:

    These "memory glasses" were also discussed at the recent International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

    Lessee here . . . Symposium, literally translated from Greek, means drinking party [utm.edu]. The Platonic dialogue [mit.edu] of the same name was, in fact, a drinking party.

    Glasses that flash messages in someone's eyes immediately following a drinking party . . . sounds like the makings of a barf-o-rama [vaiden.net] to me.

  • AFAIK, recent research would indicate that to use these for "subliminal" suggestion, a better approach than to quickly flash a message in one lens, would be to quickly flash a different (useful) one in each lens.

    An auditory form technique is commonly used with audible suggestions, especially in hypnosis. The notion is that if something is said with equivalent volume and tonality in each ear, you will focus on one or the other, but still "register" the other, without evaluating it--your conscious/critical
  • Imagine some goatse slashdot troll were to hack your glasses. That'd ruin your day, wouldn't it???
    • Imagine some goatse slashdot troll were to hack your glasses.

      It's called subliminal advertising and the good folks on Madison avenue and elswhere have been putting images like that in your face for more than 60 years. Try laid by the best [angelfire.com] as a very old example. Images like that fill cartoony comercial art and more hideous images can be hidden in photographs. Computers have been very helpful at putting pornography right in your face many times a day.

      The more advertising you are exposed to the worse o

  • by allanj (151784) on Monday October 27, 2003 @05:12AM (#7317722)

    For years, I've wanted tooltips on reality. You know, move the mouse over a button on the desktop, and a little yellow note will appear, telling you what happens when you press the button. That would be awesome as augmented reality. Fixing the engine of your car, and uncertain what that part does? Look at it for a few seconds, and an explanation will pop up. Trying to remember the name of an uncle you haven't seen in 15 years? Tooltip glasses to the rescue!
    What's next - scrollbars on reality? Now THAT would be useful :-)

  • "RFID tags are your friends"

    "Submit to the power of RIAA..."

    "Microsoft software is stable as a rock and secure as a vault"
  • Is there any software that does this for the PC? Flash the screen all day while you work.
  • Why does this announcement sound like an advertisement? Coming out of MIT, you'd think it would sound like research in need of being peer-reviewed.
  • I need this invention to help me remember people. But what I really want is Google built into the glasses so I can quickly search/see info related to the stuff around me. I would set the glasses to constantly flash search-hit fragments related to whatever object or words I was seeing at the time. I can even imagine the Googly-Glasses logo for the service.
  • I remember as a kid wanting them, as did all the neighbor kids. I knew my parents wouldn't buy them so I never asked. I latter heard they were a hoax of some kind, but not what. (Considering nobody showed them off to me, they must have been. If they worked it would have been braging rights to show them off)

    So can anyone enlighten those of us with deprived childhoods who never got them what they are?

  • That's an interesting mod idea. What I don't get is how the me information gets programmed into the CPU in a really up useful fashion. I get the mod RFID idea, but if I'm trying to me remember say a grocery list, by the time I type it in up I may as well just bring the list on paper.
  • You could market these in High Times [hightimes.com] and make a fortune!
  • Wouldn't this work a lot better if they
    just kept the words on display long enough
    so that you could READ them?

Long computations which yield zero are probably all for naught.

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