Mental Picture Projector
aka: Mind Reading Machine
"He's thrashing around while he's having his dream, and his dream can be seen on the monitor screen!"
's answer to literally seeing what's on your mind via a form of an Applied Phlebotinum
Machine that hooks up to your forehead and projects your thoughts in visual form onto a screen for all to see.
A cousin trope of Magical Security Cam
. Compare Mind Probe
, where this technology is explicitly used for torture.
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Anime & Manga
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Jack Rakan has a machine that turns his memories into a film reel, so that he can go through the Back Story without having to explain everything himself.
- Lupin III gets hooked up to one during The Mystery Of Mamo. The result, much to the surprise of the title Mad Scientist, is the image is nothing but snow.
- In Love Hina, Kaolla Su builds a device so that people's dreams may be put on the television. Obviously, Keitaro suffers because of it.
- Trinity Blood had one of these at the Vatican's disposal, but it was very painful for the witness and showed only picture, not sound.
- Cowboy Bebop had the 'Alpha Catch', which showed the last thing a nearly-comatose bounty-head saw before he was hurled out a window.
- Fantastic Four #27 has Reed build a "Thought Projector" that creates images based on the thoughts of the wearer. It is brought out of storage in #126 so Ben can have a Flashback to their Origin Story. Returned again so that Reed could communicate with a coma patient in an issue of Marvel Knights 4.
- In Amazing Spider-Man #39, The Green Goblin used a machine to project images from his brain of his past battles with Spider-Man.
- Kryptonian Thought Beasts used to do this in a Silver Age Superman story, showing what the person they were near was thinking on their triceratops-like forehead shields. They showed up repeatedly in Krypton stories. Often as not, the image depicted the beast's intention of stomping flat their targets.
- Kryptonian society also rendered artists moot with their device that allows painting by thought.
- Mandrake The Magician would routinely magic people into projecting a mental image onto the wall (usually the villain of the week they worked for). At no point was it mentioned how this actually works, since Mandrake was primarily a hypnotist, not someone who could restructure eyes into projectors.
Films — Animated
- Lewis's Memory Scanner in Meet the Robinsons.
- WALL•E: When the Captain wants to see what happened during EVE's expedition, he sticks a miniature projector on her head and watches the playback. Justified, since she is a robot.
Films — Live-Action
- Batman Forever: The Riddler has a device that can do this. He sees that Bruce Wayne is thinking about bats and concludes that Bruce Wayne must be Batman.
- Futureworld (the sequel to Westworld) had a machine that showed the thoughts and dreams the female protagonist was having.
- The chair that can monitor RoboCop's dreams as mentioned above.
- Mom and Dad Save the World
- The Memory Eraser from Flash Gordon.
- The plot of Santo en El Tesoro de Drácula involves a miraculous time travel device invented by the Masked Luchador El Santo. His friend Luisa makes the trip back to the past, because, curiously, women are better suited for surviving the process than men. In any event, Santo also has the technology to monitor Luisa's journey back in time. Conveniently, it displays pictures and camera angles, and even scenes where Luisa is not physically present — almost as if the characters were watching a film of Luisa's adventure!
- Minority Report: The visions of the Precogs are projected onto the screen.
- One old short sci-fi story featured an auditory equivalent, allowing two people with electrodes hooked up to their skulls to communicate thoughts directly. IIRC, one end was designed to receive, the other to send thoughts. Several basic tests were run to make sure the thing wasn't a fluke or a placebo leading to an additional receiver being installed for confirmations. The story ends with a bit of a twist when they try hooking one receiver end up to the sending end directly in a loop. The scientist on the other receiver looks terrified and rips them apart moments afterward. Apparently, he heard the machine itself start to think...
- In Ursula Le Guin's short story "The Diary of the Rose", a mind viewer is used against a supposedely insane engineer.
- Mandrake The Magician frequently does this as a means of painless interrogation. He hypnotizes the target to sit still and then literally causes their memories to appear on a wall like an old fashioned movie projection.
- Calvin and Hobbes, Aliens abduct Calvin and hook his brain up to a computer monitor where they bring up all of Calvin's (incorrect) math knowledge and delete it from his cranium.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Cthulhu Now, adventure "Dreams Dark and Deadly". A dream research institute develops technology to read the dreams of sleepers, and can project them onto TV screens so others can watch them.
- In Earthbound, after completing one of the late-game Sanctuaries, Ness's thoughts are projected and visibly scroll across a neon wall where he begins asking himself about his journey and his progress. This is one of only two times that Ness has dialogue in the game.
- Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, "Spaced Out": The Banana Aliens have our heroes Strapped to an Operating Table and use a "Brain Probe" to project their thoughts onto a monitor. Ami thinks about a Sugar Bowl inhabited by bunnies. Kaz thinks about swimming naked in a pool of money. Yumi thinks about beating the pulp out of their captors.
- In a Clip Show episode of The Simpsons, Kang and Kodos used one of these on the Simpsons in order to judge humanity.
- In the early 90s tie-in book "Bart Simpson's Guide To Life", Bart's dream bedroom includes a Video Dream Recorder.
- In Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, the Gromble uses one of these to view his students' scares and grade them. The projection is done through the student's eyes, even if they're away.
- Batman: The Animated Series "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" had Hugo Strange connect Bruce Wayne to such a device and thereby deduce that Bruce must be Batman.
- It sort of helped matters that he got Bruce to all but say "I'm Batman" in a therapy session, while the monitor showed a black-gloved fist clenched over the Bat Signal.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command "Star Smasher", Zurg uses a "Mind Probe" is retrieve plans for a trash compacter from the mind of one of the kidnapped LGMs. The plans appear on a computer monitor.
- An audio version is used on SpongeBob SquarePants. It breaks when resident Cloudcuckoolander Patrick uses it.
- Researchers at the University of California, Berkly, are starting to figure out how to do this with the waking mind, by having a subject watch a video, recording what happens in their brain, then trying to re-translate it into video. While crude (you can find examples with a carefully worded search on certain popular search engines), the technique is still in its infancy, and could very well lead to dream mapping in twenty years or so...