IMAGINE a world where you can turn the lights on without touching a switch, where you can communicate with people on the other side of the globe using just the power of thought.

But this isn’t a Jedi mind trick like the Star Wars character Yoda or Keanu Reeves stopping bullets in The Matrix trilogy.

Scientists at the University of Southampton have now brought the world of science fiction a step closer to reality by managing to communicate the thoughts of one person to another across the Internet without either of them speaking or typing.

The research demonstrates for the first time ever that it is possible for people to communicate through the power of thought alone.

Dr Christopher James, who led the research, hopes we could eventually use the power of thought to transmit messages and control machinery.

He is already experimenting with a motorised wheelchair that can be steered right or left by the occupant’s mind alone.

The technology, known as brain-computer interfacing (BCI), captures brain signals and translates them into commands that allow humans to control electronic devices.

But the latest study, conducted at the university’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, went one step further by connecting two people. The first subject, whose motor cortex was monitored by electrodes, was asked to think about moving either his left or right hand. The resulting brain activity was then transmitted over the Internet as either a number “one” or “zero”.

Another computer received the numbers and then transmitted them to a second person’s brain through a set of LED lights that flash at a different frequency depending on whether a “zero”

or a “one” was sent.

The brain activity of the visual cortex was then picked up through a second set of electrodes and flashed up on a computer screen with the numbers in the correct order.

“Some might say this is like telepathy or mind tricks, but that is clearly not the case. This really is a step forward to show what we can do,” Dr James said.

“We’re not really sure where we can go with it, but the fact we can do it might encourage people to think of alternative uses.”