Brainwave-reading headsets tapped by Dell to monitor workers and gaming

Aug 5, 2014
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Brainwave-reading headsets tapped by Dell to monitor workers and gaming

If you’re a fan of the brain-monitoring collection of devices out on the market today, you might already know about the brand NeuroSky. Dell also knows, and this year they’ve been testing a number of headsets - including the one made by NeuroSky in 2007 and released in 2009 - to see what they can do to read a user’s mood.

Identifying moods is what Dell hopes to accomplish. At the moment, Dr Jai Menon is letting it be known that they’ve got two people working on the project and that things are looking up - up to around a 50% accuracy rating for mood compared to what the user was actually feeling. They’re working on software to interpret signals according to Menon speaking with the BBC, and their aim is "90% or better" before "the project starts to make sense."

To drive up accuracy, the team has added several sensors other than the headset. This includes a pulse oximeter, ECG (electrocardiogram for heart rhythm), and other odd readers.

"If I can sense the user is working hard on a task," suggests Menon, "an intuitive computer system might then reduce distractions, such as allowing incoming phone calls to go directly to voicemail and not letting the user be disturbed."

Of course the user would have to wear a headset for extended periods for such actions to be read accurately. "Similarly, if they've been concentrating a long time, maybe it could suggest a break." Menon suggests that a headset - when able to be read accurately - could be worn in the workplace to help efficiency.

Above you're seeing a presentation video from NeuroSky, one of the groups Dell is working with for research.

On the other end of the spectrum, he suggests gamers could utilize headsets to amp up their challenges if they feel bored. "If it senses they are frustrated, maybe it’s time to offer them a clue about how to proceed."

Can you imagine a game that adjusts to how you’re reacting to it? Even the hobby gamers would become so hopelessly addicted, there’d be no end to the online gaming. Welcome to the age of endless computer learning - adapt and react.

Menon has also spoken about other applications for this technology in the past. They've been working on this software for several years, with odd pushes from the beginning. Speaking with ComputerWorld in March of this year, Menon suggested that "There's a lot of potential in daily use. Say I'm in my car and calling somebody and sudden fear is sensed. Well, that fear could drive a call to 9-1-1."

Dell is also investing in wearable devices of all kinds, with a possible smartwatch in the mix for the near future.


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