Trend-watch: Brainwave tracking for attention and performance

Just when you think you have heard it all, you find another technology advance that has your mind boggled. Imagine that you can track the amount of attention a person is paying through brainwave tracking whilst working or learning. Neuro-science has been delving into the brain for answers to a variety of things, from how we process information to staying focused to various ailments and illnesses found to have links to our brain. Although a lot has yet to be discovered, some interesting technology is coming out that can isolate the brainwaves to encourage focus and attention.

Manifesting through the power of thought is often used in pop-psychology. However technology called Bodywaves is developed by Freer Logic and claims to go as far as using neuro-feedback to assess whether someone can perform under pressure, keeps their attention up and learns in the most efficient manner. Their technology has been used by tops sports teams to enhance performance and is applied by organisations such as NASA.

Through a small wearable device, certain brainwaves are measured, when mapped against a specific activity such as learning for example, a clear neuro-feedback pattern is created of the learner. In a debrief further focus can be given on where the person became stressed or anxious and reduced performance or the opposite where the person was at peak performance. It gives feedback so you can improve yourself. The wearable device is no longer the rather unpleasant looking bathing cap with lots of sensors attached but a small sensory device strapped to your arm, not unlike the many tracking devices on the market.

Another wearable sensor company, came up with the Muse headband, which they created primarily to help people with relaxation, however they also have application for brain training. NeuroSky has another wearable headset, again to track brain activity. Each of the devices can map an EEG, a brain scan, just like you would have when you are wearing a heart rate monitor for an ECG, these devices map brain activity and can be set to track specific brain function.

The technology can identify when and how a person loses attention when performing a task. By identifying the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, you can create an individually tailored plan to assist a person to be more productive. Through the assistance of this technology you can measure whether someone makes a mistake based on anxiety, lack of skill or just simply inattention. It tells the brain state the person is in when making critical decisions.

From a HR and learning perspective, this may seem very big brother type technology. In environments where people’s lives are at stake or where top performance is valued, it can definitely find its place. Personally I would be curious to find out how much more of my brain I could put to efficient use. I believe we are only getting started with brainwave technology and the application of this science in mainstream business may take a while. Saying that for those companies with a strong focus on peak performance this may well be a safe way forward.

As a fun side fact, all the technologies actively combine their technology with gamified processes and serious games approaches to achieve their results. I thought that was interesting, all the tools have applications which reward successful performance.

Would you want to try brainwave technology to improve your learning or work performance?

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