In today’s “you know you’re getting old when…” story, Hypebot reports that a pair of headphones debuted at SXSW last week that selects music for you based on the brain waves you’re emitting. The same company that brought us those terrible cat ears that adjust position based on your brain waves, Neurowear, has advanced the technology in a seemingly more useful direction with its prototype Mico headphones. The headphones are not currently available for the public or for journalists to test, so it’s unclear how the headphones decide which tracks go with which brain waves, but this development seems right on trend given the growing prevalence of apps and widgets that ‘listen’ to you and report back accordingly. This type of technology, which is basically adding the smart-capabilities of the internet to everyday things, is estimated to be valued at $14.4 trillion according to Cisco, so look forward to a future where everything electronic in your life is lovingly reading your mind in the name of personalization. Magneto-style helmets will probably follow suit.
What I’m worried about is the possibility of these things recommending music that ‘matches’ my brain waves but that doesn’t sync up with what I actually want to listen to. It’ll be interesting to see how in line a device’s ability to select something for us is with our conscious desires. I doubt my mind is ever actively asking for something like Merzbow, but I still like that it’s an option. Will we lose the ability to ‘challenge’ ourselves with music (or anything taste-related for that matter) if the devices we interact with are only serving up what we want on some indirect, unconscious level? This is definitely a cool technology, but the possibility of becoming mindless by allowing our brain to connect directly to the world seems a bit too imminent. But ya, cool!