Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mind-reading headphones pick music based on your mood

Amanda Kooser/CNet

(Credit: Neurowear)
It's late afternoon. It's warm out and you're ready for a nap. You put on your Mico headphones and, as your eyelids droop, your headphones select a soothing mix of Kenny G, Enya, and Air Supply. An electroencephalograph sensor sits on your forehead to help the device scan your brainwaves and interpret your mood. Soon, you're off to la-la land.

Mico works with an app. The headphones relay your mood to the app, which then selects songs from its database of mood-tagged songs. It would be really cool if you could think "Spinal Tap" and then have Nigel Tufnel rip off a guitar solo, but that's out of the technological realm for Mico -- for now at least. Currently, it can only figure out if you're stressed, sleepy, or focused.

The built-in forehead sensor looks a lot like a microphone that's in the wrong place. There a little bit of an air-traffic-control aesthetic to these headphones. Whatever mood Mico detects is also shown on an indicator on the outside of the headphones. This could be a good warning for people to leave you alone when you're stressed out and listening to Yanni to try to cool down.

The prototype Mico headphones made their debut at SXSW, joining Neurowear's unusual product line, which already includes wearable cat ears that respond to how you're feeling.

So far, Mico is an interesting novelty that could have a much more interesting future if the technology can amp up the sophistication level. Wouldn't it be sweet to hook something like this up with Pandora and discover new songs to match your mood?

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