Forget grabbing for your smartphone when you fancy racing your drone against your mate’s – brain-controlled drones could soon be hitting the mainstream, pitting your mind power against the best of the best.

The first brain-controlled drone race has taken place in Florida, with participants using electroencephalogram headsets developed by specialist companies including Emotiv and NeuroSky to make their flying machines move through the air.

These headsets cost about $500 each – less than the cost of a smartphone and a hell of a lot easier to use than some of the controllers that ship with the drones themselves.

The electroencephalogram monitors brain activity, such as the intensity of the wearer imagining pushing a chair across the floor, and then programmers translate these signals into commands, which are then sent to the drone.

“With events like this, we’re popularizing the use of BCI instead of it being stuck in the research lab,” Chris Crawford, a Ph.D. student in human-centered computing told the Japan Times. “BCI was a technology that was geared specifically for medical purposes, and in order to expand this to the general public, we actually have to embrace these consumer brand devices and push them to the limit.”

The race was organised by the University of Florida and took place over an indoor basketball court at the university earlier this month.

Professor Juan Gilbert, who encouraged his computer science students to organise the event hopes this will trigger other universities to run such events, exploring the power of the mind. He said it’s important for such technology to be explored, developing new applications for brain training technology.

For example, you could, in the future, control your car by brain power, although the likelihood is it will be used for simpler tasks, such as unlocking your car door at first.

“One day you could wear a brain-controlled interface device like you wear a watch, to interact with things around you,” Gilbert said.