Remarkable brain hacks

Jimena Gauna

From the cozy tower rooms to the FabLlab and Makers Guild, every corner of the Waag building at the Nieuwmarkt was turned into temporary workspaces during Hack the Brain for 10 different teams of (software) developers, neuroscientists and creative minds during the weekend of 23rd-25th of May 2014. Each one of these teams had the same goal: creating the best brain hack. In 72 hours. These were the ten teams participating:

Lucid Dreaming
Stimulating dreams and influencing them from the outside. That's the concept behind Lucid Dreaming, the winning concept of Hack the Brain 2014. By giving very small electric shocks, you can influence the brain activity during the REM sleep. At the same time an EEG-device measures this specific brain activity. Perhaps in the future, therapists can use this technology to communicate with their patients.

Brain Human Interface
Since the Internet age began, a large part of our communication happens without any physical interaction. 
The concept makes it possible to translate the physical interaction between two communicating persons into vibrations - by using an EEG-device. The intensity of the vibrations will increase and decrease with the state of the person's mind (for example, the vibrations with decrease when the user is not focused). By adding a physical interaction, you can enrich online communication with the tangible experience of a real face-to-face conversation. 

LifeSnap
We all try to capture the special moments in our lives with photo and film, but these things are often time-consuming and sometimes even an exhausting activity. What if a pair of glasses could automatically record all your remarkable moments? LifeSnap is a working prototype in which a pair of Google Glasses can film your happy moments without you even having to bat an eyelash.

BrainTinder
How do you feel about the people around you? Well, one brainwave is worth a thousand words! BrainTinder, a concept for a date application, makes use of this very specific brain activity. How does it work? While looking at a photo of someone, your brainactivity is measured and then translated into dating advice. By doing so, you can find a match based on your true feelings and prior experiences. Finding a new perfect match with BrainTinder is not only quicker - it's way less hassle!

Mindcrafted
As an artist or a designer, it can be challenge to express a certain narrative or feeling in your designs. But what if you could translate your emotions directly into an object as a memory of a certain moment? The idea behind Mindcrafted is to design with the mind (literally!) by using our brainwaves as tools for a new humanistic design-approach.

Brainstorm
What would it be like to go for a walk through your own head? Combine real time brain activity with 3D visuals and you have Brainstorm, a working prototype whereby you can have a live look into your own brain activity with an Oculus Rift. This brain hack is not only a visual delight for the eye, but also very educational for psychologist students.

Global Handshake
The common handshake might just be the most international method of communication - a global symbol of goodwill but even now, in 2014, we can only shake each other hands during a real, physical meeting. The prototype of Global Handshake imitates the handshake through EEG-sensors. Concentration versus relaxation influences the kind of handshake you want to give to someone on the other side of the world. The concept behind Global Handshake could provide a new way to maintain close contacts with business relations.

Brain Your Lock
Every human has a unique pattern of brainwaves - you can call these specific patterns the 'fingerprints of the brain'. Brain Your Lock is a prototype for security software based on personal brain waves. If this concept will succeed in practice, we only have to think about opening the particular object or document 
instead of using keys and passwords. 

Total Recall
Every type of mind state (from a creative vibe to a stressed mood) has its own type of brainwaves. Total Recall measures the brainwave frequency of the emotions you experience at a particular moment and helps you to get back to this state of mind at a later time. With a deadline looming over the horizon, the Total Recall prototype gives you the opportunity to train your brain in recalling any mood you wish.

Brainwave Theremin
What does your brain sound like when it's in philosophical thought? What about when it's enjoying a beer at the bar? Brainwave Theremin is a prototype only made out of open hard and software, which can translate your brainwaves into sounds and, in the future, maybe even to music. 

Want to see more?
Have a look at the photos at Flickr. Do you want to meet the masterminds behind these brain hacks? Dutch television program 'De kennis van nu' was present during the hackathon to report on the event live from the Waag. Watch the programme here (in Dutch).

About the author

  • Jimena Gauna is part of the interface team of Waag.