"Wagging my tail SO HARD right now!"
September 21, 2012 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Tech company neurowear - the same people who brought you brainwave-controlled cat ears - "is now using NeuroSky's brainwave-reading headgear to suss out your emotional state and share it with your friends" on Facebook and Twitter, along with your physical location. As an added bonus, hook it up to Shippo, a tail you can wear that will wag at different speeds depending on your mood.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (31 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I actually had the thought: hey, take away all the social crap and the tail, and this would be kind of cool. I could passively create a geographical map of all the places that make me happy and unhappy, and use that to guide my future decisions of where to spend my time.

Then I remembered that I've got entire systems in my brain that already do exactly that.
posted by gurple at 3:07 PM on September 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


Jimmy's at a Femen demo in Kiev, and he's totally off the chart!
posted by No Robots at 3:10 PM on September 21, 2012


Not gonna lie -- I would totally wear this.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 3:11 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems like the real lede here is NeuroSky's mind reading microchip. It can read your mood and track your concentration level! That's pretty amazing for something that fits on the head.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2012


I think wearing this would make me so happy for the first couple of weeks that I'd get sad thinking it was broken. Then it would work and I'd be happy. Hmm.
posted by poe at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's too bad the chip can't tell what you're concentrating on, though. Otherwise, they could make an anti-procrastination word processor that plays a sad trombone whenever your attention slips.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


My friends can usually figure out my mood pretty quickly.

I don't really want strangers to know what I am feeling.

These devices would give my enemies important information to evade my attacks.

Why would I want to wear one of these?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, on further reflection, if the tail was covered with poisoned blades and lashed around wildly when I was annoyed, it might be OK.

Except I would continually cut myself with poisoned blades, of course.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 PM on September 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw the ears at PAX, and think they're pretty great - an Enforcer was wearing a set, and they'd perk up adorably whenever she'd ask if anyone had any questions. I want them to do well enough that the tech gets iterated on (and I'm hoping they are not so patent-laden that competition is impossible), because I want to see what the iPod Nano of this thing turns out to be.
posted by NMcCoy at 3:30 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got one of the headsets and have played extensively with the API. It is a bit painful to wear for longer than ten or fifteen minutes. Kind of cool to use with meditation.
posted by humanfont at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2012


That's too bad about it being painful. It looks like there's a ton of software for the headset already, including a lot of concentration training stuff.

This is the kind of thing I might actually buy. Not for the cat ears or wagging tail peripherals, but for the concentration training and relaxation apps.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:54 PM on September 21, 2012


Oh what the -- no. Not for me, sirs. I spend so much time and effort trying to not let people know what I am feeling, which, on a typical weekday, is either a) some kind of petty workplace irritation, b) clinically depressed rumination on the pointlessness of existence, or c) the analgesic lust of distracting sexual fantasies. I'll be damned if I have that sort of thing show up on my FB timeline.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:09 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I expected her to jump up and catch that frisbee in her teeth.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


You would, wouldn't you?
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:29 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then I remembered that I've got entire systems in my brain that already do exactly that.

You say that, sure, but a lot of those systems will either mislead or straight-up lie to you. I wouldn't mind having an objective record of this stuff, if I could be sure I owned it exclusively.
posted by mhoye at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll be damned if I have that sort of thing show up on my FB timeline.

Or worse..friended.
posted by srboisvert at 4:41 PM on September 21, 2012


I'm trying to consider whether wearing the tail and ears at the same time would lead to a unified message that helps people understand me better, or just mean I'm surrounded by furries confused by the mixed cat/dog thing.
posted by ardgedee at 4:41 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got a MindSet too; I took one for the team and ordered one when a group of us on a small forum were arguing about whether it does real EEG. The result was yes, it's doing real EEG but only on one channel and not very well because of the dry contacts. It's very obvously doing real FFT on the signal and the frequency band outputs are quite different if, as the doctor in our group suggested I try, you mount it on your knee instead of your head. OTOH the "synthetic" outputs that NeuroSky derives that are "more useful" than the raw frequency band outputs are actually fooled pretty well into generating what looks like good data by your knee. These outputs are what most third parties are using and, of course, NeuroSky hasn't published the algorithms.

The MindSet is a bit painful to wear because the ear muffs have to press hard against the earlobes to make electrical contact. I think their newer cheaper product that doesn't have the earphones would probably be more comfortable. The poor but convenient contact system adds a huge amount of noise, especially if you move around.

I thought for a bit it would be cool to do an actual meditation app for the MindSet that would use tones to feed back your level of Theta activity, but I just never got around to it. If the results had been more consistent I'd probably have put more of a priority on that but it's really finicky.

If anyone is curious the MindSet uses two BlueTooth channels. One a serial port that the MindSet uses to send both raw data and FFT channel levels back to the PC -- this is easily readable by any app that can open a serial port in Windows, and presumably by any other embedded device that can connect to BlueTooth serial. The other is audio out to the headset, which is presumably the regular protocol for BlueTooth audio out; it shows up as two completely separate devices. I assume the newer cheaper device without the headphones just ditches the headphones. I really wish I had one of those instead, I'd probably play with it more.
posted by localroger at 5:08 PM on September 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was just waiting for them to start sniffing each other's bums.
posted by islander at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone have an idea of how they are specifically analyzing mood? Are they tracking activity in a specific brain region? If so which one(s)? To my knowledge we don't quite have mood pinned down to one area (or even group of areas) yet.

Also, were the devices to be accurate and adoption widespread, it seems like there would be some real dystopian horror-show applications. People getting too rowdy? Subpoena the data from facebook, see where the clusters of negative emotion are, deploy pre-emptive riot squads accordingly. Granted, one would hope the hypothetical resistance would learn to turn their neurotech off, but this still makes me feel sort of uneasy, as awesome as the prospect of thrashing my cybernetic tail about on a bad day may be.
posted by passerby at 6:23 PM on September 21, 2012


The next step will be to combine the headsets with medication injectors. Get too angry, and you get a shot of tranquilizer. Too depressed, and you get antidepressants injected right into your brain. And naturally the net connection will allow the government to make the right injections if you're getting too rowdy.
posted by happyroach at 7:30 PM on September 21, 2012


But like so many cool future things that are here today, it sounds like the execution is lacking. (At least going by what localroger said.) If you can put the handset on your knee and the machine thinks it detects an EEG, then something is fishy somewhere.
posted by Kevin Street at 7:36 PM on September 21, 2012


As a fun at-home biofeedback toy? Neat! Cute!
As a connection to social media and other externals? Boo! Scary!

I can also see this getting hijacked pretty easily. Advertisers pay a premium to distribute sets that ALSO react when a specific company/ their product is advertised. Believing the device is actually respinding to your own patterns, you assume you must be happy, and associate the advertising with the assumption of pleasure.

You know, like now, only with kitty ears.
posted by windykites at 7:59 PM on September 21, 2012


Did... did they name the tail after an Inuyasha character?
posted by maryr at 9:48 PM on September 21, 2012


No, they named it after the Japanese word for "tail."
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:36 PM on September 21, 2012


I can't believe this thread went on for this long without anyone linking to this.
posted by town of cats at 12:25 AM on September 22, 2012


Oh, thank god. My sister's cats and dog are eponymous enough.
posted by maryr at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2012


I have worn the ears (a picture of me wearing them was the inspiration for my user picture, even) and I think they are FANTASTIC. Just so incredibly fun. The best moment I had was when I heard the voice of someone in the office that I hated and the things just went nuts. And then when I started thinking about drinking margaritas after work and they got all relaxed and soft.

I don't think I could wear the ears and tail at the same time, though, as that seems like a pretty dog-like tail.
posted by whitneyarner at 6:44 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe this thread went on for this long without anyone linking to this.
posted by classa at 7:58 PM on September 22, 2012


Jimmy's at a Femen demo in Kiev, and he's totally off the chart!

Femen's topless warriors start boot camp for global feminism (nsfw)
posted by homunculus at 10:38 PM on September 22, 2012


Is the tail set to react in a notably different fashion than the ears?
posted by Theta States at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2012


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