A thought-controlled robot is the end result of Honda work on a new brain-machine interface (BMI) designed for use in controlling the asimo humanoid robot.
A sensor helmet measures the brain activity, a computer analyzes the thought patters, and the robot gets commands wirelessly.
The following video gives a pretty good view of the process, but unless you speak Japanese you are SOL for the verbal content portion.
(thought-controlled Asimo robot)
When the user thinks about raising his right arm, Asimo raises its right arm a few seconds later. Asimo walks when the person thinks about walking.
The high-precision BMI technology relies on three different types of brain activity measurements. EEG (electroencephalography) sensors measure the slight fluctuations in electrical potential on the scalp that occur when thinking, while NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) sensors measure changes in cerebral blood flow. Newly developed information extraction technology is used to process the complex data from these two types of sensors, resulting in a more accurate reading. The system reportedly has an accuracy rate of more than 90%.
Update 31-Mar-2009: Here's another update thanks to the indefatigable Moira. In an upcoming film, Surrogates, Bruce Willis is caught up in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through robots.
(From Surrogates, release in September, 2009)
Not the end of this update! But it's too late to add more...