Six or seven years ago I was watching a DVD on the couch (can’t remember what it was) and I fell asleep about three quarters of the way through. In slumberland, a funny thing happened: I dreamt the ending to the movie. I woke up slightly hazy while the final credits were rolling and thought “hey, that was pretty good.”
When I re-watched the film a few months later I initially swore black and blue that this was not the same version as the one I saw, and furthermore that the ending was nowhere near as good. When I realised my forty winks had gone filmic I felt simultaneously disappointed and pleased: disappointed that the film’s ending was weak and pleased with my subconscious for intuitively mapping out a better one.
Imagine for a moment a cinema-going future in which you can’t blame the screenwriter’s for coming up with a bad ending because you wrote it yourself, in your own mind, while watching. A sort of Choose Your Own Adventure except you turn the pages with your brain.
Crazy you say? You might be right, but a new technology called MyndPlay is raising such possibilities by boldly claiming viewers can change the outcome of a movie using only the power of their minds (or Mynds). Viewers wear a special headset that reportedly transmits their emotional state by measuring electrical activity in the brain. Here’s a snippet from MyndPlay’s website:
This new media platform will revolutionize interactive film, mental sports training and video content by truly immersing the viewer into the plot, storyline and the characters by allowing them to direct or influence the outcome just by relaxing and focusing, they choose who lives and dies, whether the bad guy or the good guy wins, or whether or not the golfer makes that all important putt.
Of course, most if not all of that is balderdash, as this review from TechnoTrack explains:
NeuroSky’s technology is still limited to detecting the mental states of concentration and relaxation, you can’t “will” the movie to go the way you’d like with your thoughts — in fact, thinking about anything rather than what you’re seeing on screen seemed to register as a form of distraction… the ticket to success seemed to be focusing intently on processing the images on screen and clearing our head of all thought or emotion, making us feel totally brain-dead even as we aced the scene.
Movies like Twilight make viewers feel brain-dead enough; the idea that one ought to focus intently on Edward and Bella’s tortuous puppy dog romance in order to “ace” a scene feels like masochism — right royal punishment for having turned it on in the first place.
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Still, the technology does present some intriguing possibilities.