As far as BrainCo is concerned, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. The Harvard-incubated brain-machine interface (BMI) company develops products that use machine learning and neuroscience to facilitate simple tasks. They’ve been getting a lot of attention ever since winning the Innovation Award for Accessibility at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where we caught up with them to test out some of their newest cerebral products.
To get things started, the company set us up to operate remote control cars with our minds. As strange as that concept may seem, the headband we used to do so made it feel incredibly natural. More specifically, our brainwaves were being converted into digital instructions that told the cars to move around the track they were on — an especially amusing feature given the fact that human beings can think faster than they can react. No need to remember which button did what.
Once the thrill of racing with our minds subsided, we started thinking about all the other potential applications for BrainCo products. With their FocusFIT headband, the link between mind and body is strengthened even more. Its accompanying tablet app uses neurofeedback technology to give users actionable information both before and after their workouts. The headband is put on pre-workout, with cognitive games available on the app to help sharpen your focus and achieve an ideal performance. Once your workout is over, FocusFIT uses guided meditation to help your muscles recover more efficiently. You can then track their progress over the course of several sessions.
In the classroom, BrainCo’s FocusEDU could be used to quantify a student’s level of engagement with course materials in real-time. In this scenario, each student would be given a headband to help them calm down, concentrate, and meditate on course material. If a student is having difficulty in mathematics, the teacher will instantly know exactly where the breakdown in comprehension has occurred. If they’re simply not paying attention, the educator will know that, too, no matter how hard the student may try to conceal their daydreaming.
Over the course of the school year, teachers could also use FocusEDU to critique their own teaching methods based on the brainwave data collected. Were the technology to become ubiquitous in schools, there would no longer be a need for report cards or teacher evaluations — the data would tell the students, teachers, school administrators, and parents almost everything that they needed to know.
Even if you’re not a fitness buff or a student, BrainCo’s FocusNow can help you work more efficiently, tracking your performance for you and determining the areas where the quality of your work could be better.
As double-amputee athlete Mincheng Ni showed us, even the most challenging of tasks can be done if we put our minds to it. Ni performs using one of BrainCo’s award-winning AI-powered prosthetic hands, which learn their users’ habitual motions to create a more fluid piece that feels like a real arm, further proving the company’s motto, “your brain controls everything.”
Considering the millions of people that stand to benefit from the convergence of machine learning and neuroscience, it’s safe to say that BrainCo’s potential is more pronounced than we can even begin to think about.