For biomedical engineer and futurist Dr Jordan Nguyen, they are blueprints. “The power of television and films is huge – they’ve got this incredible ability to inspire us,” says Nguyen, who will this week deliver the keynote address to Screen Forever, the annual conference of Australia’s film and television producers. “Sci-fi movies have given me a lot of inspiration for what is possible, and also warnings about what directions we could go in. At the same time, superhero films show elements of human nature that many of us experience in one way or another – a disability or being an outcast – and bring those elements to the surface to show we can be heroes if we want to.” One of the things that makes Nguyen’s TV work so interesting is that he is unafraid to show the failures as well as the successes. It took a superhero movie to remind Nguyen of that when he was deep into his PhD project, in which he developed a mind-controlled wheelchair. Dr Jordan Nguyen will deliver the keynote address at Screen Forever at Crown Conference Centre Melbourne on Tuesday November 20. Thought controlJordan Nguyen’s mind-controlled wheelchair and Riley’s control over his environment using eye movements are two real-world examples, but others have ventured into this territory – known as brain-controlled interface – too.

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