A new brain-reading helmet can indicate how stressed you are on a bike ride -- and it also let’s you see where you were when your anxiety levels were the highest.
Designed by Arlene Ducao a recent graduate from the MIT Media Lab, the MindRider helmet uses built-in sensors and an electrode to translate electroencephalogram (EEG) feedback into an embedded LED display. Green lights indicate a calm, focused, active mental state. Yellow lights mean you’re slightly agitated. And red warns of drowsiness and anxiety; flashing red lights indicate panic. (Pretty intuitive.)
In the 2011 prototype pictured, MindRider uses a single NeuroSky MindSet electrode EEG device that can pick up 10 types of brainwaves that signal emotions, Wired explains. It also consists of an Arduino microcontroller to translate those signals into lights, a bluetooth radio for the Mindset to communicate with the Arduino, an RGB LED light strip, 3 transistors to control the light colors, and a 9V battery.
MindRider v.2 pairs the helmet with GPS to create “Experience Maps” of your geo-located brain activity. That means you can actually see where along your route you were stressed out and use that to help plan your return trip. It’s a little like the traffic layer on Google Maps, except it tracks your mood and mental experience.
"Now that it is a connected device, we definitely see its power in yielding insights over time," Ducao tells Fast Company. "Urban and transportation planners can look at the data of many people and use that for transportation planning -- things like bike lanes or bike-share programs."
The team hopes to market the helmet to the public soon, and as more and more people start to use the device, its GPS capabilities mean it could be useful for navigation. "You can access the data of others to help navigate you in a way that’s potentially less stressful, potentially more relaxing and more safe," she adds.
Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York.
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This is a great idea, and could be extended to many activities- not just cycling.
Imagine if you had a device that measured your stress levels in everyday life for each of the activities you did and mapped them out, so you could avoid these activities in future.
For example, ironing a shirt in the morning, walking the dog in the rain, loading the dishwasher, writing monthly reports. You wouldn't get much done, but you'll have a better chance of being blissed out!