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NextSense Earbuds Spy On Your Brain

A new startup called NextSense is working on earbuds that detect and record the electrical signals of your brain.

But while the immediate uses of NextSense’s earbuds are medical, Berent hopes to eventually build a mass-market brain monitor that, if enough people start using it, can generate enormous quantities of day-to-day brain performance data. The catch, of course, is that since no one has ever done that, it’s not yet obvious what most people would get out of the information. That’s also what’s exciting. “We don’t necessarily know what we would learn because we’ve never had access to that type of data,” says Emory’s Winkel.

Berent and his team envision a multipurpose device that can stream music and phone calls like AirPods; boost local sound like a hearing aid; and monitor your brain to provide a window into your moods, attention, sleep patterns, and periods of depression. He also hopes to zero in on a few sizes that would fit a vast majority of people, to dispense with all the ear-scanning.

Science fiction fans will immediately think of the Babel Fish from Douglas Adam's 1979 book Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

The Babel fish is small, yellow and leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them.


(The Babel Fish diagram)

The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

In terms of the practical goals of the NextSense company, Philip K. Dick captured them with his cephalochromoscope or cephscope from his 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly.

Your cephalochromoscope that cost you nine hundred dollars, that you always turn on and play when you get home - Ernie and Barris were babbling away about it.

Read about these other consumer devices for watching (and hacking) your own brainwaves:

  - IfIHadGlass - I'd Make PKD's Cephscope
  - Hitachi Brain Scanner Fun Toy
  - EEG Headset Is Parasitic Cephscope
  - Epoc Headset Brainwave Controller
  - SmartCap Detects Fatigue
  - Hair Brush Reads Your Mind
  - XWave Apps For iPhone See Brainwaves
  - Moran Cerf, When Will We Get Neuro Tech For Ourselves?
  - Get Your Own 64 Channel, Dry-Electrode Brain-Computer Headset!
  - Safilo Brain-Sensing Eyewear
  - Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
  - New Brain Scanner Lets You Move Around
  - Neurodevices For Consumers? Neuroethicists (And Philip K Dick) Say 'Caveat Emptor'

Read the excellent and detailed article at Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/3/2022)

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