Augmenting the Human Body: Brain Controlled Dog Tail and Cat Ears

September 23, 2012

in future

Neurowear is a company that develops wearable fashion items that can be controlled using your brain waves and other biosensors, with the goal of “augmenting” the human body.

Back in May 2012 I had the chance to try Necomimi (in Japanese Neko - 猫 – means cat and Mimi – 耳 - means ear), a pair of cat-like ears that you can control with your brain, guided by Tomonori Kagaya, one of the key designers at Neurowear. Necomimi senses when you’re alert/focused, relaxed or “in the zone” (relaxed but focused at the same time) and wiggles accordingly. Necomimi retails at around 80 dollars, making it a relatively affordable for a hi-tech gadget (after all we’re talking about pioneering commercial brain sensors).

Today Neurowear announced Shippo (shown in the video above), a dog-like tail also controlled by your brainwaves, which reacts to your mood and geotags your mood/location using the companion mobile app.

The Augmented Human Body

The whole concept behind Necomimi and Shippo is to create gadgets that physically react to our emotional state by analyzing our brainwaves. The physical manifestation can then induce a certain behavior in us or in the people we’re interacting with.

The Relevance of Brain Wearable Tech

I believe the importance of gadgets – toys – like Necomimi and Shippo relies not in that they are a cute (and rather superfluous) things someone might wear but that they will prepare youngesters to what will be a mainstream interface in the near future: controlling stuff with your thoughts, be it a paralyzed person controlling a wheel chair with her brain, driving your car (or skateboard) by thinking or a health device that detects and alerts you/your doctor before you’re about to have a major brain problem.

We adults tend to be utterly suspicious – often righteously so – about new technologies which could be somehow used against us. Think of the privacy concerns if someone could read your thoughts or emotions without you knowing (researchers have already hacked brainwaves to reveal passwords). But younger people getting familiar with ubiquitous brainwave sensors will probably have less resistance to them and actually contribute to their mainstream adoption.

Girls wearing Necomimi and Shippo – photo by Tomonori Kagaya

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