A wearable brain scanner could give computers insight into how hard you’re thinking.
Conversations between people include a lot more than just words. All sorts of visual and aural cues indicate each party’s state of mind and make for a productive interaction.
But a furrowed brow, a gesticulating hand, and a beaming smile are all lost on computers. Now, researchers at MIT and Tufts are experimenting with a way for computers to gain a little insight into our inner world.
Their system, called Brainput, is designed to recognize when a person’s workload is excessive and then automatically modify a computer interface to make it easier. The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology, called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), that determines when a person is multitasking. Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a system that adjusted the user’s workload at those times. A computing system with Brainput could, in other words, learn to give you a break.
There are other ways that a computer could detect when a person’s mental workload is becoming overwhelming. It could, for example, log errors in typing or speed of keystrokes. It could also use computer vision to detect facial expressions. “Brainput tries to get to closer to the source, by looking directly at brain activity,” says Erin Treacy Solovey, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. She presented the results last Wednesday at the Computer Human Interaction Conference in Austin, Texas.
via Technology Review – Kate Greene
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