Haier used its stand at IFA to show off some future technologies. It demonstrated gesture control on one device, which looked like something of a pour cousin to Kinect or the original Sony PlayStation Eye Toy.
Of more interest, perhaps, was their mind control TV, called Wave Brain. Pitched along the lines of "your mental power will change channels for you" in Haier’s press information, the reality is somewhat different.
The demonstration involved using your mind power to explode a barrel. It’s a demo program on the set designed to show how you can influence something with your brain waves.
Of course you don’t just stand there doing the Jedi mind trick. You have to put on a piece of headgear - the Wave Brain - which detects and transmits your brain activity to the television.
The wireless headset isn’t too cumbersome as far as test rigs go - a couple of contact points is all it needs. But having to wear any sort of headset is going to stand in the way of this sort of technology.
It seemed simple enough to get working, although hanging around the stand we saw that some people struggled to get it to work and Haier staffers seemed well practised, so we're guessing it's something you can learn to do pretty well. Hours standing in front of a TV at a trade show should do that for you. All the same, there were a few too many people, for whom it wouldn't work, who were furnished with excuses like "you have too much hair" or "you have too much sweat" for it to seem like even a marginally well-honed prototype.
It's still an interesting concept, but not one we can really see taking off, even if the headgear does become minimal or done away with completely. Imagine those holiday moments sitting around the TV with Grandma nattering away, you'll subconsciously be turning the TV up and up and up.
How will you negotiate who gets mind control over the TV? Will your partner be constantly switching it back to Eastenders when you're enjoying repeats of 'Allo 'Allo? Will a cheeky moment in Hollyoaks send your TV off to the Adult Channel?
On a more serious level, is it even practical? Currently the Mind Reader can only detect intensity of brain wave activity but that doesn't translate in any way to what you actually want or what you're thinking about, only to how much strength you are thinking at all.
It might work for something graded like volume control but for switching inputs, pressing play and changing channels (let alone specific channels), not only would it require a different technology altogether but, even if it worked, it's more involved and less exact than pressing a button on a remote control.
Call us old fashioned, but pressing a button is still magical enough for us, everything else just makes our brain hurt.