This one is just out of....well, let me not get ahead of myself.
A company who for the moment shall remain nameless (don't peek below), both has patents and applied for another patent that would create a "playback system" that bypasses the eyes and the ears. For those interested, the accepted patents are named and numbered "Method and System for Generating Sensory Data onto the Human Neural Cortex (patent nos. 6,536,440 and 6,729,337) and the patent application is called and numbered, "Scanning Method for Applying Ultrasonic Acoustic Data to the Human Neural Cortex" (application number 20040267118).
The concept is amazing. It is a theoretically non-invasive way of creating sensory impressions (meaning in this case vision (video) and sound including full blown stereo or 5.1 surround sound separation) across the neural cortex of the brain.
The neural cortex a.k.a. the cerebral cortex is the area of the brain that's responsible for the thought, reasoning and sensation, voluntary muscle movement, and memory. In other words the parts of the brain that were affected in the study of the ALCS I mentioned in this blog entry a few days ago. The implications of these are staggering for the neuromedical field, though that's hardly why the patents were filed. But imagine if you could provide the sensory experiences without the eyes and ears being the direct pipelines for sight and hearing? Instead, sight and sound would be transmitted by firing "pulsed ultrasonic signals that modify the firing rate of neural tissue" meaning the auditory and visual are reproduced directly on the neural cortex. What does that say for the way it could help the blind and/or deaf? Wow.
But the purpose of it is more mundane. The idea is to show movies and listen to music that would be directly delivered to your head in 20/20 vision and with perfect hearing.
The implications of that are less staggering than the medical ones, but they become outright freaky (to me in a sort of "amusing if it weren't so not funny" kind of way) when you hear who owns the patents and the application.
Yes, my all time favorite, "I Can't Dance That's Why I'm With the Band" customer unfriendly company, Sony, is the owner of the patents. That's the same Sony that does everything for itself. That embraces the concept of "customer as vermin." The same Sony that charges a premium for all its proprietary formats that it insists that you use if you want to own a Sony product. The same Sony that has a highly developed engineering culture - which makes great hardware - but I don't really think I would be comfortable with them shooting images and sound across my cerebral cortex. My very own brain stem.
When you know its Sony who owns these patents, it creates a whole new meaning for "rootkit" doesn't it? Imagine if they do this and follow the same strategy as they did with the rootkits that the Sony CDs installed on your PC unbeknownst to you that created such an incredible stink last fall because of the damage they did when you tried to disable or remove them.
Putting Out the Neural Fire: The Movie
Here's what I would envision the scenario looking like.
Sony releases the PSP (Patented Sensory Projection) device. With it, you can watch movies priced 250% over a DVD and 50% over a UMD, in the SNM (Sony Neural Media) proprietary format. But unbeknownst to you, by watching an SNM movie, the PSP will install a cerebral "root kit" which, if you attempt to stop watching the SNM movie before its conclusion, will remove your ability to voluntarily move your muscles. If you then attempt to disable or remove the cerebral root kit itself, it will nuke your neural cortex a.k.a. your "operating system."
Even though I'm only speculating, the patents are real enough. I can't wait to see what Sony does with it.