This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) saw a particularly huge success for many startups and small companies and for the first time, neurotech companies were also in the media spotlight. Widely featured BCI companies included InteraXon, NeuroSky (together with Puzzlebox and Necomimi), Freer Logic, and Advanced Brain Monitoring Technologies. Each company had its own unique attraction; for instance, InteraXon featured not only their successfully crowdfunded Muse headband but a brain-controlled beer tap as well!
Year over year, more and more small companies grab the opportunity to present their products at CES. In 2013 the absence of some of the biggest technology companies (e.g. Microsoft, Google, and the always absent Apple) and probably the still growing trend of crowdsourcing, appealed even more startups to set up their booth at the largest tech expo of the world.
Whatever the case, there have never been so many exciting and innovative BCI products at CES before.
This show was particularly exciting for InteraXon, as they were debuting the Muse headset, along with the Brain Health Application. In case you would not know: Muse has seen an amazing success on Indiegogo.
Muse is a wearable EEG device with 4 sensors to measure brainwaves in real time. Proving they are not just innovative but a fun and cool company, InteraXon also set up their thought-controlled beer tap, which was a major hit as you can see on this photo tweeted by InteraXon.
This year NeuroSky showcased the MindWave Mobile headset, and its presence was also demonstrated in the form of its spin-off companies, Puzzlebox and Necomimi, which introduced the mind-controlled helicopter and the brainwave cat ears to the broader audience.
Steve Castellotti, CEO of Puzzlebox featured in person his highly successful Kickstarter-funded helicopter, the Puzzlebox Orbit. To learn more about this open-source, EEG controlled helicopter project, make sure to read our interview with Castellotti.
Necomimi shone with their impressive (not to mention adorable) brain controlled cat ears. As you might already know, these ears can reflect your mood, they flop down when you are sad/relaxed/bored, they stand up when you are focused and the ears wiggle when the user is excited. Click here to read more posts on Necomimi.
Haier, a Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, along with eye, voice and gesture-controlled televisions, displayed once again its Brain Wave TV, an exciting concept based on NeuroSky’s sensor technology.
Freer Logic, a true leader of the BCI industry that has been on the market since 1994, showcased BodyWave, a brainwave monitoring system used in ADHD treatment (playattention.com), but also tested by NASA to monitor the performance of pilots during supersonic flight simulation.
Freer Logic is also working with an airplane captain to help people overcome the fear of flying (fearlessflight.com) and as we reported earlier, the BodyWave is even being used to measure nuclear plant workers’ concentration level. At CES 2013 Freer Logic placed sensors in a steering wheel and allowed people to control the computer just by gripping the wheel, while a special algorithm is able to detect drowsiness so it can identify when you are too tired to drive.
Last but not least: Advanced Brain Monitoring Technologies, the company behind B-Alert, an EEG headset that might be familiar from that DARPA threat detection research, presented a highly clinical application of BCI technology with a headset that allows users to monitor their physiological states during sleep, or while performing tasks that require a great deal of attention.
This array of products beautifully showcased the diversity, practicality, and potential of BCI technology. These products, while most of them based on the same EEG technology, range in application from toys, to fashion accessories, to highly informative medical technology. The commercial neurotechnology field appears to be thriving; it will be exciting to see what new and innovative products are available next year at CES 2014