Emotiv headband

Why is this man smiling? No, he has not been assimilated by the Borg. He just won a car race, simply by thinking about it.

Last summer, I wrote about the Insight wireless headset from Emotiv. It is capable of sensing brain activity, and has many applications including helping ALS patients interact with and control their environment. I got to try it out myself at the ShowStoppers press event at CES 2015. In this case, the application was much less life-changing. The interface was set up to control a slot car on a short track. The more effective your mind control, the faster your car would go.

The test included a very short practice session. A computer monitor showed how fast or slow my thoughts would drive the car. It was a bit difficult to concentrate in the noisy and crowded setting (see the photo above), but I quickly got the hang of it. Then I was paired up with an opponent, and the race was on. I’ll just say that I was indeed able to control the car with my thoughts. (Oh, okay; I smoked the other guy! Eat my dust!)

The five-channel electroencephalogram (EEG) device is intended for both clinical and consumer applications. It can be used to help monitor seizures and rehabilitate stroke victims. It can also be used to help control ADHD, or simply learn focus your mind. The Insight is scheduled to ship this spring for $299, and will include a software developer’s kit (SDK) for those who want to develop applications that use data from the device.