New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

focus brainwave headband concentrating in class classroom
BrainCo

From students attending school in the form of telepresence robots to virtual reality field trips, the classroom of the future is going to look very, very different to the one we grew up with. The latest example of this? A study carried out involving 10,000 school-aged children between 10 and 17 in China, in which students were given brainwave-reading headbands to check if they are concentrating. Created by the Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo, the Focus headbands promise to tattle on those who stop paying attention — all in the best interests of the students, of course.

The Focus utilizes embedded electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, designed for measuring changes in brain waves. By looking at fluctuations in the brain’s high-frequency beta waves and low-frequency alpha and theta waves, the headband can reportedly give an indication of whether students are engaged in a particular task. The Focus will even rat you out publicly by flashing different color lights according to how much you’re focusing.

“Focus EDU provides in-class, contextually relevant, and ongoing feedback enabling teachers to make sustained improvements in their teaching skills,” the company’s website notes. “Meanwhile, students develop ownership of their learning experience. Students and parents can track learning improvements, while administrators can identify the most engaging activities and methods to help spread best practices.”

In the recent Focus headband study, students in China typically saw a 10 percent improvement in grades, while also reducing the amount of time they needed to spend to complete homework.

“From what we have seen in our pilot studies and in-house research, students with the highest attention level perform the best on quizzes and tests,” Max Newlon, who carries out “product definition” for Focus, told Digital Trends. “This makes sense intuitively. In practice, teachers can get a real-time indication not only of how engaged a student is, but how well they will likely do on follow-up exams, instead of waiting until the test to assess their performance. We’ve run studies with the MIT Media Lab, as well, that will expand on our findings. In addition, we’re running pilots in the USA that will elucidate the function and impact on our technology.”

Newlon said the team is currently concluding a pilot study at Catholic Memorial in Boston, where five teachers are putting the system through its paces. Another pilot study will take place in the midwest soon. “We also have a strong interest from Spain and Latin America where we are launching a brainwave education project,” he concluded.

A teacher’s dream tool or an example of Orwellian technology gone too far? It’s up to you to decide. One thing’s for sure, though: It’s on its way.

Emerging Tech

Want to work in the stars? Here are six future space jobs you could hold

Ever dreamed of leaving Earth to work in the stars? Here's a list of job titles that might sound like science fiction now, but almost certainly won’t a decade or two in the future.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Cars

Study finds motorists overestimate Autopilot’s capabilities; Tesla disagrees

Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) finds many motorists are confused about the semi-autonomous driving aids found in cars. They often think the systems are more capable than they truly are.
Computing

Don’t start adulthood with a bad decision. These are the best college laptops

When it comes to choosing a laptop for college, there are a lot of things to consider, whether that's size, battery life, or price. So, before you spend all your hard-earned money on something you don't need, check out one of these laptops…
Emerging Tech

You can help search for aliens with an open access release of SETI data

The Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, recently analyzed its first three years of radio telescope data. And all of the data collected is being made publicly available in an open data archive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.
News

Apple’s new Seattle campus may mean big things for Siri, artificial intelligence

Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday, with a significant number of those jobs focused on Siri and artificial intelligence.
Emerging Tech

How to watch SpaceX’s most difficult Falcon Heavy launch ever

SpaceX will launch a Falcon Heavy rocket Monday evening in its most challenging launch yet. The launch is scheduled for Monday June 24 at 8:30 p.m. PT, but is dependent on weather conditions. You can watch NASA's livestream with coverage…