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Reading the Wave January 14, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in inventions, iPhone, sense of wonder, web & computers, weird news.
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There are over a half million iPhone apps, so it’s hard to keep up with them (especially so since I don’t have an iPhone. Might wait until Verizon upgrades to 4G in a few months and their iPhone handles it). But this app pushes the envelope. Whether it is a scam is something others will have to determine. Back in the day biofeedback units were all the craze. Learn to meditate in half the time. Rush to nirvana. I suspect this is a variant but how good it can be is a matter of conjecture.

It certainly isn’t a mind reader. It’s not telling you anything about actual thoughts as much as interpreting GSR (galvanic skin response, not the CSI gun shot residue–we are crowding acronyms but that’s a topic for another day). This might be a junior grade lie detector.

There’s always been a fascination with *knowing* what someone else is thinking. There are no fewer than two tv shows with this as a MacGuffin (Mentalist and Lie to Me–neither is very believable but I watch Mentalist because Simon Baker smiles winningly and Tim Roth sneers condescendingly).

GSR lie detectors date back to 1885 and revolved around the theory that some people are born criminals and could be identified by physical attributes. The notion of phrenology ties into this and at one time the US Army had a museum full of skulls from Indians and criminals to determine their defects.

A more subjective lie detector was probably well developed by gamblers, though in Western frontier days this probably wasn’t needed so much since cowboys tended to get drunk and, at any rate, were easy enough to cheat. Body language was certainly a tell and there is considerable communication done nonverbally.

But that iPhone mind reading app? Not so much. But fun like a Magic 8 Ball, I suspect.

And that 10G iphone app out in a decade? Now that just might read your mind and pick your pocket and…

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