Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Kira0
MyndPlay: My Brain Can Sort-of Make It Happen
Are you the type of person who wants to be able to control the fate of movies? Do you jump up and down yelling at the screen telling the different characters what they should be doing? Did you grow up reading all the choose your own adventure stories (this was totally me)? If so, then you are probably excitedly waiting at the edge of your chair for the time when you do not need a hand controller to play a game, but instead can just will the characters to do your bidding.
The MyndPlay Brainwave Headset is one of the first steps in this direction, but it has a ways to go. What comes in the package is a slightly sci-fi, somewhat-uncomfortable headset that makes you feel like you should be flying a spaceship, and can connect to your smartphone or computer via Bluetooth. This headset attempts to measure EEG through a small metal piece you place on your forehead and an ear clamp. The ear clamp cannot possibly be measuring any neuronal activity, of course, and probably tracks heart rate (and might actually be more important that the piece on the forehead). As an ex-neuroscientist, I know how vague EEG is (pretty much all you are going to get is the level of general activity) and I am aware that the frontal lobes (where the metal piece is placed) has nothing to do with emotions. The amygdala and hypothalamus, which are much more central in the brain, are much better at determining emotions or anxiety. So, it seems that the MyndPlay Brainwave Headset only measures the level of activity or heart rate a person is showing at a given time.
The box set comes with a moving representation of the brain activity, a meditation application, a few games, and the movies you can “control”. The different programs seem to respond best to a lack of brain activity, a state which can be hard to achieve. I lost every game and the movies all ended poorly when I played them. If you know how to meditate, you will probably have more luck. I did have a friend who is a serious gamer have a go at the movies, he quickly learned the trick, then rapidly found himself bored. The movies would be much better if controlling them was more than just shutting off your brain (maybe depending on the scenario?). We also were pretty disappointed with the quality of the videos. They were badly shot, badly edited, badly acted, and badly scripted. It is very obvious that you only have control during certain parts. I do like that it is shot from first person; so, it feels like you are involved in the action. But it ends up feeling more like a first person shooter than a movie you can control, which is cool on its own, but a different concept altogether.
Overall, this is a great idea, but it just isn’t there yet. If you want an interesting toy that still feel like a first-generation attempt and runs around $200, it’s certainly fun and goofy at parties. I will be waiting for the next cool advancement NeuroSky comes up with before spending my money on it.