May 21, 2012Science and Technology
Wearable brain scanner determines user "overload"

Researchers at MIT are developing a wearable and portable brain monitor that tells a computer when its user is mentally overwhelmed. The system detects when a person is multitasking and tells the computer to adjust its interface to make things easier. The technology utilizes a brain imaging tool called functional near-infrared spectroscopy, or fNIRS. The tool can also distinguish between different kinds of multitasking. The brain activity is detected by using light to scan for changes in blood hemoglobin concentrations. During research, the team found the system to be significantly successful, reducing the human workload. The technology could take a load off the minds of workers who must constantly perform at high level, regardless of changes in cognitive state. Creating sensors in computer interface systems is a field that is expanding and is proving to be a useful application in telecommunications and medicine.

Relevant Locations: Cambridge, MA, USA
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