These aren't Second Life punks—they're visualizations of what people with locked-in syndrome think, and they could help us communicate with people who can't respond physically or verbally.
Some people in a vegetative state can have an awareness of their surroundings, but they have no means of communicating to doctors, friends or family. So researchers at the University of Cambridge have been measuring brain activity using electroencephalographs (EEGs), then analysing the data to understand the connections and links being made in the brains of such patients.
The result—"the neural signatures of consciousness" as they refer to it—reveals that their reactions to stimuli are similar to those of healthy people. That means that it may be possible to link actions with brain activity in our brains and use them to translate the thoughts of those who can't communicate. One day. [PLoS Computational Biology via New Scientist]