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BCI products are already on sale. Emotiv Systems sells its EPOC neuro-headset to gamers that read electrical signals in the wearer's brain to operate specific games.

Meanwhile, Austrian medical and electrical engineering company g.tec, which sells the P300 speller, the intendiX, is also working with disabled people on brain painting.

Such tech is, for now, concentrating on those it can help most, but the research will eventually trickle into everyday use. "The BCI has tremendous potential as a technology and is already used by gamers and in extreme incident management," says Carmichael. "Ultimately it's possible to think of a world where it offers people additional bandwidth. "I like the idea of an as yet unrealised future world where I can wirelessly communicate through my universal translator chip …"

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