Until recently a purely lab based technology, brainwave (electroencephalograph or EEG) headsets are trickling into the marketplace in a number of different guises.
But what exactly do these devices do, how do they differ from each other and – with potential applications ranging from medicine to gaming and market research – who will use them and for what purpose?
There are at least four areas of applications for brainwave detection devices:
- Medical/clinical applications
- Assistive technology for people with disability i.e. to control, for example, a wheelchair or a mouse
- Hands-free gaming
- Market research – evaluating new ads or packaging by reading consumer brainwaves
Let’s start with one of the latest headsets to be unveiled – the Mynd. Announced late March 2011, it is described as “the World’s First Wireless Full-Brain EEG Headset”. That description sounds impressive but who is it for?
The Mynd headset is primarily for market research. You can’t buy one at this stage because it is the product of Neurofocus, a Nielsen backed market research company that uses Mynd to provide ad and pack testing services for advertisers. Neurofocus may decide to sell the headsets later but for the moment, the company is satisfied to claim a competitive advantage for its market research testing services
The Mynd is wireless, uses dry, “smart” electrodes (thus eliminating the use of gels) and is claimed to provide full-brain coverage using “a dense-array” of EEG sensors, each one capturing brainwave activity at 2,000 times a second.