A brainy new gadget? I’m all ears.

March 16th, 2012

While people lined up overnight for the new iPad at Apple stores from Madison to Tokyo, it was actually a Japanese gadget that captured my attention this week. And if I’d had one, my ears literally would have shot up with excitement. My cat ears, that is.

The new fuzzy-eared headband called “Necomimi” – or cat ears in Japanese – is a communication device that’s controlled by the wearer’s thoughts and emotions. Created by a company called Neuroware, Necomimi uses the latest neuroscience imaging technology to detect brain waves and interpret them.

The ears shoot up when the wearer is focused. They flatten when the wearer is relaxes. When a person is relaxed but also focused on a specific activity, like reading a book or playing a game, the ears twirl around in a circle. When brain activity is low, the ears just flap gently back and forth. See it in action here.

The technology to control objects just by thinking about them has been in development in labs around the world for years to assist wheelchair users or help people who’ve lost limbs control prosthetic devices. And brain-computer interfaces continue to be explored. Whether it’s serious science or hi-tech fashion fun, the point remains that while brain activity can be monitored, harnessed and interpreted, it’s still the energy of thoughts and emotions that trigger the activity. It’s mind over matter, always.

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