You’ve heard of V-2-V (vehicle to vehicle) and V-2-X, but what about B-2-V? – that’s brain to vehicle. This story made headlines in the week before CES: Nissan was apparently working to analyse the brains of drivers, to create a better car-driver bond and potentially anticipate what was going to happen, so it could help them out on the road.
At CES, we got to try it for ourselves; albeit in limited form.
To play along, you first need to get set up. This isn’t the most pleasant experience. A Nissan team take you in the back and fit a cap to your head. As you can see, it’s super fetching. Except that the process of having the cap fitted is that they sort of semi-screw some metal sensors to your head. It’s not altogether pain free.
Next, you get to see your own EEG – electroencephalography – basically your brain activity on a laptop screen.
Looking like something out of one of the Simpsons episodes where Homer’s been abducted by Kang and Kodos (the aliens), you then walk out onto the stand and are plonked into a three-screen driving sim, with just a steering wheel for making inputs. The machine accelerates and brakes for you as you ‘drive’ a pre-set course.
While designers might be interested in the idea of an emotional connection, it’s the safety aspect that seems to be really key here. Basically, by reading your EEG, Nissan can see up to half a second in advance when you plan to turn, or hit the brake or do something to take evasive action. If they know this, the theory is that a semi-autonomous car could help by inputting steering, braking or throttle – and in a potential accident situation, at speed, milliseconds count.
For now, all Nissan are looking at is your smoothness and synchronicity in steering around the course. We’d recommend you focus on the smoothness – apparently ours was the best result all day and, according to Nissan, the kind of result a racing driver would be expected to get. With feedback like that, we’d happily have our brains felt-up every day of the week!