The Headband That Reads Your Brain

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05/15/13
In the Magazine
A Headband and mobile app to measure your focus. Melon

One hundred forty years ago, an English scientist observed electrical impulses flowing across the brains of a living rabbit by using a type of electrode, known as a galvanometer, directly on the animal’s gray matter. Fifty years later, a German neurologist surgically inserted silver wires into the scalps of his human patients to measure electrical charges, inventing an early version of the electroencephalogram, or EEG.

Both were groundbreaking experiments—if somewhat unpleasant to their subjects. Today measuring the brain’s electrical activity is far less intrusive. And by this fall it will be downright stylish.

World: meet the Melon.

A small team of entrepreneurs with computer- and cognitive-science backgrounds recently unveiled plans for a futuristic-looking headband that tracks your focus by reading the electrical currents of your brain in real time.

Started as a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, the Melon is designed to be used during times of intensified focus, such as when doing yoga, athletics, or homework. Used in conjunction with a mobile app, the Melon allows the ultimate ego trip: watching your brain at work. Visualizing the image of billions of firing neurons, the app also offers helpful tips like, “Hey! It looks like you can’t focus right now. Try taking five deep breaths.” Or, “Try stretching for a bit.”

The tips are not annoying, according to co-creator Arye Barnehama. Rather, he says, the Melon is designed to give “you a greater understanding of yourself.”

A prototype Melon has already been developed and tested for both functionality and fashion, and if the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Barnehama and his co-founder will put the headband out into the world, where it will join the Fitbit, the FuelBand, and Jawbone’s UP on the bodies of health-conscious, possibly slightly self-obsessed consumers.

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