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Wearable device to decode human mind by neurometrics for a new concept of smart interaction with the surrounding environment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Mindtooth (Wearable device to decode human mind by neurometrics for a new concept of smart interaction with the surrounding environment)

Reporting period: 2021-06-01 to 2022-09-30

A key issue in the 4.0 Industrial Revolution is the Interaction among machines as well as between machines and humans. Machines are today able to acquire knowledge from smartphones, internet, and even from people’s preferences and habits, with the purpose of enhancing safety and quality of life. Imagine a technology able to adapt its functionalities obtaining insights about mental and emotional states of people. This could pave the way for many applications.
The measure of these user’s mental states is called a “Neurometric”. It is possible to compute Neurometrics by processing and combining information coming from the user’s body, through specific recording techniques such as Electroencephalography (EEG), Hearth Rate (HR) or Galvanic Skin Response (GSR).
Until a few years ago it was possible to obtain neurometrics only by using expensive and cumbersome lab equipment, nowadays they can be recorded by commercial “Wearable devices”. Advances in wearable, more comfortable and even fashionable sensor technology has boosted the field and they are expected to flood global markets over the next years.
In this regard, EEG has been demonstrated to be the most comprehensive technique in terms of the amount of information and time resolution, but the employment of EEG devices still requires a remarkable expertise for affordable recordings, with various constraints, such as:
- Weakness in signal quality provided by sensors and recording technology
- Uncomfortable headsets, unadaptable to each head shape/Comfortable and adaptable headsets that are unpleasant to look at
These are the main reasons why wearable EEG devices available on the market are a step back compared to other devices, such as smartwatches. To date, there is no EEG product on the market, which is highly reliable, comfortable and easy to use, with a good design that can be adapted to specific professional operative contexts.
Mindtooth is foreseen to establish a new era within the Human Machine Interaction domain, where systems will (i) be designed taking into consideration the actual user’s perception, and (ii) truly become “cognitive-able”, being able to sense users’ state and to make informed decisions according to their timely needs and intentions.
Mindtooth will be integrated into the next generation of intelligent control interfaces and dashboards to provide added services to the users, such as drivers, pilots and industrial workers in general.
The Mindtooth system has been designed by following a user centred design. In this regard, the 1st phase of the project was devoted to the user requirements in each investigated application area, in terms of EEG Headset constraints and mental states of interest. In this regard a design workshop was organized during the first months of the project, by involving stakeholders, to focus on all the necessary needs. The output of this task has been used as an input for the definition of the validation activities of the technology, and the development of the Mindtooth EEG headset and the software components. Depending on this activity, many mock-ups, potentially usable within each application context have been designed. Some of these have been prototyped, and one was tested in terms of comfort, usability and functionality during the 1st validation experiments. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of the Mindtooth technology (e.g. EEG sensors and processing algorithms) in assessing neurometrics of workload, stress and vigilance in realistic contexts. Finally, a feasibility study for each application context has been performed, and one 3rd party app, one for each application has been developed, with to test them during the second validation activities. These activities demonstrated the effectiveness of the Mindtooth system as a whole, for each operational context. Demos of the system have been performed in many dissemination and exploitation events. During these events, the Mindtooth system has been tested on more than 500 people, confirming the headset comfort, the user friendly design of the software, and the effectiveness of the computed neurometrics.
Decoding real time information of the human’s mental and affective states covertly, i.e. without actively prompting the participant, could lead to adaptations in the environment, whereby the participants comfort and safety are prioritized (e.g. loss of attention, or increasing of stress). The Mindtooth system will allow the integration of cerebral information of users with the surrounding technological environment. Mindtooth will become an attractive and useful tool to evaluate new devices and workstations from the unconscious human perspective, i.e. putting the human at the center. The impact of Mindtooth is foreseen to be then transversal, universal, and ground-breaking, as the Bluetooth® concept has been revolutionary in allowing different devices to be connected.
The challenge of the Mindtooth project is to allow the use of “out-of-the-lab” neuroscience in operational sectors by providing easy access to a large number neurometrics, such as those relating to mental workload, stress, and vigilance. Several companies already tried to provide solutions for this, but are limited in terms of wearability, signal quality and reliability. The Mindtooth system is unique with respect to the potential competitors, as it out-performs its rivals on the following key aspects:

Accuracy and Reliability: employment of neurometrics validated in several EU projects and International collaborations and in different contexts (e.g. aviation, air traffic management, automotive, industry) are therefore capable of: (i) ensuring high and reliable signal quality; and (ii) providing accurate assessment of the user’s states. Technological quality standards are guaranteed by the project partners’ expertise.

Suitability: Mindtooth is easy-to-use and designed not to interfere with the normal execution of tasks, therefore no modifications in the habits and procedures of the users are needed, nor any modification is required in any of the existing infrastructure in which the Mindtooth is deployed. The paradigm employed by Mindtooth is “plug and play” and this is highly appreciated by potential customers.

Marketability: the market analysis determined that the major barrier to entering the market and commercialization is not related to Mindtooth's capability (already validated in hundreds of trials), but rather to its simple embedding in a widespread ensemble of applications, varying from sector to sector. The Mindtooth system will be focused on facilitating such versatility and will be designed specifically to fulfil the requirement of the considered applications. The project concluded with the commercialisation of the Mindtooth Lite. A version of the device that will be formally launched in January 2023, and commercialised through an agreement between BrainSigns and Brain Products, targeting initially the R&D market.

Enabling a smart channel of communication between the human mind and machines in a systematic, reliable and affordable way, Mindtooth would produce invaluable benefits not only in the specific fields targeted by the project but in a huge set of current European social challenges, such as smart and connected cities, connected and automated vehicles, cybersecurity, health, safety, 4.0 Industry, thus promoting European industrial leadership worldwide.