A brainwave music player so nice, Japan made it twice


Japanese digital pop artist Julie Watai wearing Neurowear’s Mico

During the past week, a Japanese startup and a Japanese university both brought us innovative music players that allow us to choose songs without the need for any remote controls. Here’s a quick look at both, which appear to operate on the same principle.

Neurowear, the Tokyo-based startup best known for having introduced wearable cat ears controlled by brain waves, unveiled an new amazing product called Mico. It’s an automatic song selection headset, and it was exhibited at SXSW Interactive 2013 from March 8th to the 12th.

The headset reads brainwaves from your frontal lobe, and the program predicts the a song you might want to listen to by comparing the signal received to previously recorded patterns. The system integrates with an iPhone app that plays a song for you, and the surface of ear pads are illuminated according to your emotion state (e.g. concentrating, or sleeply). The startup hopes to let users discover music they might not have heard or tried before.


Likewise, some academics in Japan are working to bring us a similar solution. Professor Yasue Mitsukura and her team at Keio University have studied more than 1,000 people and have succeeded to map the patterns of brainwave that emerge when a user wants to listen to specific type of songs. Then by detecting your brainwave pattern with the sensor on their headset, the music player lets you listen to a series of songs you might like.

The new technology aims to help users who have a difficult time selecting song. The study used a small brainwave sensor and a music player, and the team succeeded in achieving 90% precision, in terms of choosing songs based on what test participants were thinking they wanted to listen to.

Professor Mitsukura and her team have been exploring possibilities of augmented reality (AR), facial image recognition, and sensibility evaluation. The group was previously known for having developed a real-time avatar webcam which was exhibited at Digital Content Expo 2012.