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The mind-controlled exoskeleton developed by Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues will allow a paralyzed teenager to make the ceremonial first kick of the 2014 World Cup. (Danilo Borges/World Cup Portal)

Mind-Controlled Technology Extends Beyond Exoskeletons

A wearable robot controlled by brain waves will take center stage at the World Cup this week, but it’s not the only mind-controlled tech out there

smithsonian.com

Furry Ears And Tails

(Hanako Miyake demonstrates Nerowear's 'Necomimi ' at a Tokyo event in 2011. The table to the left shows her brainwaves. Photo: © KIM KYUNG-HOON/Reuters/Corbis)

Neuroscience-inspired fashion is perhaps the oddest of mind-controlled products. For example, a device called Shippo uses a NeuroSky EEG headset to control a furry, robotic tail. And Necomimi Cat Ears, developed by the Japanese tech company Neurowear, use EEG to move fuzzy ears on a headband according to the user’s mood—relaxed, interested, etc.

The ears, incidentally, could serve a practical purpose: screening phone calls. At the AT&T Hackathon last year, neuroscientist Ruggero Scorcioni proved that the headset can also connect to a smartphone. Scorcioni developed an app called Good Times, which blocks or accepts calls also based on the wearer’s emotional state as reflected by the ears.

Think of it—mind-controlled technology not only could take Halloween costumes to the next level, but could allow you to control all aspects of your aesthetic with just a thought. 

About Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian. She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News, Nature and others.

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