This cyberpunk spartan helmet is actually a portable brainwave scanner

It may look like some crazy mashup of The Phantom of the Opera and the weird John Travolta alien from Battlefield Earth, but this sci-fi-style piece of futuristic headgear is actually a wearable portable brain scanner that is able to record neural activity while you’re on the go.

Unlike the large stationary functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners which are often utilized for brain imaging, this magnetoencephalography (MEG) system could open up whole new ways of studying brain activity, without requiring subjects to remain entirely motionless while this is going on.

“MEG works by measuring the weak magnetic fields that are produced outside the skull by electrical activity in the brain,” Richard Bowtell, a professor of physics at the U.K.’s University of Nottingham, told Digital Trends. “By mapping the spatial variation of these magnetic fields over a portion of the head surface, we can work out whereabouts in the brain the current is flowing. To make the first wearable MEG system, we used a new kind of quantum sensor that is very sensitive to magnetic fields. These optically pumped magnetometers have been used before for measuring brain activity, but we exploited new commercially available sensors which have been miniaturized and made robust by QuSpin Inc., which were mounted in a 3D-printed head cast.”

portable brainwave scanner new brain 1  credit wellcome

Bowtell said that the head cast was 3D printed to fit snugly over the subject’s head, and includes slots which can be used to site the sensors that are positioned over the wearer’s motor cortex. “It was printed by Chalk Studios in London and they made it look very cool,” he continued.

Aside from its striking appearance, Bowtell said that the wearable opens up exciting new opportunities for experiments in which subjects move their heads, such as mapping neural activity in a person who is bouncing a ball on a bat. Right now the limitation is that users are stuck moving inside a shielded box enclosure, which prohibits walking around. However, this could be changed in future iterations of the wearable, which will allow greater levels of natural movement.

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Nature.

Product Review

With the S10e and S10 Plus, do we really need the Samsung Galaxy S10?

The Galaxy S10 is the middle child in this year’s Galaxy S10 range, between the Galaxy S10e, and the Galaxy S10 Plus. There’s no striking reason to buy it, but it’s still an excellent phone you’ll be happy with.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Deals

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.