One might think that working on engineering for virtual reality is some of the most cutting-edge work you can do, but Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen's ambitions are far more lofty. She'll be leaving her job as executive director of engineering for Oculus in August to form a new startup called Open Water -- and she wants to read your mind.
Jepsen made the announcement at the Women of Vision Awards on May 5. In an interview with Xconomy, she detailed what Open Water hopes to accomplish. It's a wide swath of noble goals involving brains and machines that sound too good to be true. But it definitely sounds like an exciting future.
The first goal is making MRIs more affordable and more functional by increasing the resolution and making the devices wearable. Jepsen had a brain tumor removed in 1995, which she told Xconomy led to an increased interest in neuroscience.
Beyond that goal, Open Water may start moving towards moonshots (Jepsen formerly worked at Google's X labs, so this isn't entirely surprising). After MRIs, Open Water may move to help humans communicate visually or via their thoughts using brain scans.
Initially, such a breakthrough could enable stroke sufferers to communicate or amputees to control their prosthetics via thought, but over time Jepsen envisions scenarios that would apply to a lot more people.
“Can you imagine a movie director waking up with an image of a new scene in her head, and just being able to dump her dream” into a PC, Jepsen said.
After that? Maybe we could talk to animals.
"Dolphins are supposed to be really smart," she told Xconomy. "Maybe we can collaborate with them."