Headphones Read Your Brain Waves To Pick The Perfect Music

Headphones Read Your Brain Waves To Pick The Perfect Music

The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.

All this week, we’re exploring a trend we’re callingBiometric Inputs, which looks at how our personal technologies are being designed to respond to a wider range of human controls that go beyond simple touch. A new generation of sophisticated sensors and interfaces are enabling people to speak, blink and even think their way to richer, more personal interactions with their devices.

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the possibility of future video games responding to players’ moods in real-time to change the difficulty or content of gameplay, creating a tailored experience for every person based on the particular frame of mind. Imagine, you’re having an off day and your first person-shooter suddenly cuts you some slack to get past the big boss who’s been crushing you for weeks, giving you a rush of endorphins that changes your entire outlook on life. Think of it as a digital mood enhancer, no pharmaceuticals required.

These same emotional associations are also true of the content we choose to watch and listen to, whether or not we’re aware of them. Just think back to all that brooding music that was on repeat during your teenage years when no one seemed to understand how tough your life was. Sometimes we want to a movie or a song to match our current mood and other times, we just need a pick me up to get ourselves out of our current emotional rut – like this for example – but in either situation, why should we have to choose?  

This is where Mico, a pair of prototype headphones come in. Developed by biosensor fashion brand Neurowear, creators of the popular line of wearable kitten ears and tails that move according to your brain waves, the headphones play music based on a user’s emotional state. In addition to being a bit more socially acceptable, Mico use a forehead sensor that can read a wearer’s thought patterns to determine one of three possible mood states: focused, drowsy and stressed.

Based on this analysis, it selects music from a database that corresponds with that feeling. The headphones connect to a user’s iPhone through Bluetooth and choose from over 100 songs that have been “neuro-tagged” using a special music app. According to the website, “‘Mico frees the user from having to select songs and artists and allows users to encounter new music just by wearing the device,” adding elements of both relevancy and discovery to the listening experience.

While the technology is in its early stages and will require a bit more fine tuning before it’s serving up a ‘mood optimized’ playlist, the real opportunity will come if the developers are able to pair the technology with a streaming service like Pandora or Spotify that has a much larger library to of music from which to select. From there, its not hard to imagine similar ‘emotion-based’ recommendations for all of our content, whether you feel laughing or could use a good a scare.

We’ll delve deeper into this idea of contextualizing our entertainment experiences later in the series, but as we round out this week’s look into the trend Biometric Inputs, we speak with Jennifer Healey from Intel Labs to get her thoughts on the impact of mood and emotion on how we share and consume content. Check back tomorrow!

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