Thursday 24 October 2013

Dance like everyone is watching

When it comes to the neuroheadset, the one specifically that exists in my life, there have been a number of questions. The most of them aren't remotely important to the work that I am doing, except as an exercise in explaining my role with increasingly efficiency, which has its own usefulness.

My role, which is primarily involved with validation of research, makes use of a neuroheadset that is not considered, by research standards, to be 'high resolution, state of the art equipment'. People question this, because there are bigger, better, and more bad-arse tools of choice roaming the halls of validation. The thing is, validation is difficult for a number of reasons, but probably the most frustrating thing is that most of the tools that we use for validation impact the results of that validation. Whether it is a camera, an audience or a state of the art neuroheadset wiring us for a better future, we are likely to perform to the camera, the audience or the headset. It becomes an invader in our environment, and the more unfamiliar it is, the more likely that we dance differently.

As technology pervades every corner of our existence, we adjust and it becomes a natural part of our environment. Not natural in that it grows on trees, but 'natural' under a definition that has not been co-opted by a specific agenda. This is where consumer grade electronics, as those electronics that exist at a price-point that is reasonable for people to purchase and use in their own homes, have the distinct advantage over The State of the Art.

If we can use the output from the camera in a $100 phone for rudimentary motion capture, that device becomes useful in gross motor skills training and assessment. You put that phone in the pocket of a competent athletics coach, you have less sports related injuries amongst adolescents. In the pocket of a competent physiotherapist or occupational therapist you reduce the longterm effects of prolonged injury or physical development issues.

Even though we dance differently for the device, it's familiar enough that we don't dance so differently. At the moment when we are rigged for neurovalidation, the duration of setup, number of trained professionals, geographical restriction and sheer size, complexity and alien nature of the 'device' all contribute to the way that we dance.

The neuroheadset that we are working with is high-end consumer grade electronics. It isn't a $100 smartphone being handed out with basic contracts. Not yet. Emotiv are working on another model, that is lighter, cheaper, easier to use and maintain, and (above all else) looks even more like something that you might find sitting on someone's desk next to their headphones. This is a device that we will find incorporated into game design and adapted to monitor concentration, sleep, and relaxation levels. It, or something like it, will become a part of all of our futures, and then we can see how you dance.

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