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Published on July 17th, 2012 | by Kira


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.

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About the Author

Former neuroscientist, and now fashion photographer, Kira is a perfect fit for TrulyNet. She has a great understanding of what is hot, loves the new geeky toys, and has the academic background to be opinionated on it. Kira is well traveled, has lived in Australia and Canada for school. Loves the outdoors, biking, all types of art, and is completely obsessed with fashion and photographing it. She presently can be found in New York City at an art event, art gallery, museum, science talk, one of the NYC parks, a vegetarian friendly restaurant, a comic book store, or out getting bubble tea. She is a little obsessed with bubble tea.

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