Review Snapshot
Pros

Exciting consumer application of cutting edge technology. Amazing potential.

Cons

Some issues with the interface and limited apps included.

Verdict

Exciting. Great potential. Be prepared for blips.

Reviewed by:
Jackie Gay : A published novelist, editor and university teacher, Jackie has recently moved t...Member Reputation 177 • 198 active Krits
NeuroSky Mindwave Brain Wave Sensor from NeuroSky
NeuroSky MindWave Review
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NeuroSky Mindwave Brain Wave Sensor detailed information
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NeuroSky MindWave REVIEW - Does it actually work?

It's not so long ago that the technology in your mobile phone would have seemed space age. Talking to someone on the other side of the world in real-time video, for example; or accessing huge databases of information instantly. It's all a bit Star Trek if you think about it.

Well here's the next generation... Brain Wave sensors from NeuroSky.

NeuroSky develop and manufacture Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technologies for both research purposes and consumer product applications.

You may have heard of the first mass market applications - the MindFlex,  a game in which players lift a ball by concentrating and moving it through a maze; and the Star Wars Force Trainer where players also lift a ball (actually the ball is levitated by a fan and concentration is measured using NeuroSky technology). 

Now NeuroSky have released the MindWave, which 'turns your computer into a private tutor.'

It consists of a headset which safely measures brainwave signals and monitors the attention levels of users as they interact with math, memory and pattern recognition applications.

The headset comes with ten apps ranging from, 'fun entertainment to serious education'.

According to the blurb this is 'exercise equipment for the mind', using research grade technology to aid meditation, mental fitness and gaming applications.

And for such cutting edge technology it is cheap: $99.95. 

The headset resembles a pair of headphones, with a single electrode contacting the users forehead. The headset registers your state of relaxation, for example, or the concentration level of game players, allowing them to perform a variety of actions within the game (when paired with a computer via wireless).

Amazing!

The software bundled with the headset includes a meditation journal, some games and some educational applications such as Speed Math, which monitors student attention levels. Plus some fascinating ideas such as MyndPlay, a movie viewing player that uses the mental state of the viewer to determine plot changes in the movie.

(I'm not sure this would work for horror movies... where you think, 'no! don't go in there', but you get the idea!).

This is, 'taking neuroscience out of the laboratory and into the home.'

The technology has some fascinating applications, such as sports coaching and music technology (your music is controlled by your thoughts and moods, for example); these are not included in the MindWave and, according to the reviews (and not entirely surprisingly), the more interesting apps are not cheap.

But it's worth noting some of the potential:  the 'Brain Athlete', for example, which allows athletes and trainers to track concentration levels through a workout or particular activity (a golf swing, for instance) and analyze that performance later. And the same technology is used for high level research into applications for ADHD, autism, post-traumatic-stress-disorder, Alzheimers, traumatic brain injury, and many others.

But for now this is primarily a gaming tool and personal growth tool. 

So what do the gamers say? Well, not surprisingly there's a great deal of interest and some give it an unequivocal thumbs up. 

'This thing is a lot of fun and holds a lot of yet to be fulfilled potential,' said one. 

'I've had the MindSet for a couple of years now and use it at home for biofeedback,' said another. 'It rocks.'

'Got one. It flies my remote helicopter! Pretty amazing guys.'

However there are some reported issues with obtaining clear signals and holding them. 'The metal electrode constantly makes very small movements on the forehead, creating a lot of noise,' reported one user.

And we can be fairly sure that later models will improve on the user interface.

But overall this is exciting technology. 

NeuroSky hold the official Guinness World Record for the heaviest machine moved using a brain control interface; and NeuroSky partner Steve Castellotti describes the experience of using the technology vividly: 'I was testing the crane using my own attention and focus the first time when the solution began to work. It was actually a challenge suppressing my own excitement to maintain enough concentration to keep the crane moving!'

Bring it on!
Date Reviewed: March 28, 2012, 9:02 am
Reviewed by Jackie Gay
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