This New Movie Has A Pro Gamer Driven To Insanity By An AI Brain Device — And It’s More Realistic Than You Think

Some news from the future: It turns out there's now a piece of tech called an Omnia, which basically reads your mind and makes you unbeatable at video games and lets you control electronic devices with only your mind, and oh, it also makes you completely lose touch of time, physical space, and the fabric of reality itself — kind of traps you in a state of psychosis that you can't escape no matter how hard you try. Isn't technology fun?

Close-up of an intense-looking woman with long hair and blue eyes from a scene in a TV show or movie
Lionsgate Movies

OK, fine — that’s not real, it’s from a movie that just came out. But it isn't as far-fetched as you might hope.

The image contains the word "LATENCY" displayed prominently on a textured background featuring subtly stacked squares
Lionsgate Movies

Latency, which launched today in select theaters, stars Sasha Luss as Hana, a pro gamer with agoraphobia (extreme fear of the outside world), who receives a weird brain device that kind of destroys her life.

Closeup of Sasha Huss
Dave Benett / Max Cisotti/Dave Benett / Getty Images

The film also stars Alexis Ren as Jen, Hana's attentive bestie.

Closeup of Alexis Ren
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The device attaches to the back of Hana's head and basically learns to read her mind, allowing her to mess with Jen's phone or play video games with her thoughts alone. Absurd, huh?

A woman with long hair wears a white, head-mounted wearable device with a light on the side. She is looking down and to her right
Lionsgate Movies

Absurd, yeah, until you learn this telekinetic tech is very, very real.

Here's an example. To get the device working in the movie, Hana has to do 11 "calibration" exercises so that the device can, in effect, learn how she thinks. One of Elon Musk's companies, Neuralink, does this very thing — with pretty mind-blowing results.

A holographic brain with neural connections is displayed behind a hand holding a phone displaying the Neuralink logo
Nurphoto / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Neuralink just planted a chip in the skull of a human for the first time ever. Noland Arbaugh, a 29-year-old from Arizona, was paralyzed from the neck down in a freak diving accident. Yet now, thanks to Neuralink, he can do many things he couldn’t before.

Twitter: @neuralink

In addition to chess, Noland has been playing Civilization VI, a popular turn-based strategy game, and even Mario Kart, a much faster game, with only his mind, which shows the staggering capabilities of this tech.

He can now type messages, navigate his computer, surf the web, and play video games like Hana in Latency. All with his mind. Like a Jedi!

Woman saying, "Let the games begin," in a TV show scene
Lionsgate Movies

But how can a chip turn thoughts into actions? Glad you asked — here's how it works, using Neuralink's macaque monkey, Pager, as a case study:

A close-up image of a snow monkey with reddish skin around its eyes and mouth, looking directly at the camera
Suebg1 Photography / Getty Images

Neuralink released a video more than three years ago of Pager playing Pong (someone trademark that) entirely with his mind.

A monkey is using a joystick to interact with a computer screen displaying a simple game. The background shows a forest scene

Now bear with me: The chip in Pager's head takes electrical signals from his brain when his brain performs an action — for example, when he moves a cursor on a screen. Pager is incentivized to do this with a banana smoothie:

A monkey sits on grass, holding and drinking from a baby bottle, with another bottle next to it

Omnia is basically that computer. In Latency, Hana has to do 11 "calibration" exercises so the device can learn how she thinks. That's kind of what Neuralink did with Pager. (Minus the you-must-self-inflict-pain-with-a-knife-now part Hana does.)

A black box labeled
A black box labeled
Screenshot from
Screenshot from

Lionsgate Movies

If the computer gets good enough and has enough brain data, it no longer needs the physical input of the joystick. This is exactly what we see in the video: Pager plays a matching game with the joystick first, but it is soon unplugged.

A monkey is perched on a tree branch, reaching out with curiosity to a smartphone attached to a selfie stick

Then Pager Plays Pong™, and there isn't even a joystick in sight. It's just a monkey. Playing Pong. With his mind. The future is, like, totally here.

Bruno_il_segretario / Getty Images

So you're telling me the tech in this movie is real?

Pretty much. Sure, parts of it are exaggerated, like when Omnia hacks Hana's whole ass apartment just to say hello (this is definitely possible, but also very suable). But the primary function of the tech? Yeah, that's already here.

Could a device like Omnia make me lose track of reality, too?

I mean, no. The part where it warps Hana's mind and leads her to [SPOILERS REDACTED]? Nah, that hasn't happened in real life. Yet. *Gulps*

Admittedly, we know nothing about the long-term side effects of this tech on actual people. In fact, risks include infection, bleeding, headaches, mood changes, and even hacking of the brain chip. So I guess it's…possible?

Screenshot from "Latency"
Lionsgate Movies

I wouldn't worry if I were you. If a mysterious tech company sends you a brain-computer interface to play around with, try it. I just hope that if things get hairy, you have an easier time disconnecting than Hana did…

Closeup of Sasha Luss in "Latency"
Lionsgate Movies

Here's the trailer for Latency.