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The Reluctant Technologist on Mattel’s Mindflex

Come on Schwartz. Come on Schwartz.

Come on Schwartz. Come on Schwartz.

The fundamental premise of the Mattel Mindflex makes it one of the coolest games ever. Seriously, ever. (Note, I didn’t say most fun, I said coolest. There’s a difference.) The object is to move stuff with your mind. Here’s the gist: You put this doodad on your head, then you stare at this li’l Nerf ball real hard, then suddenly the ball starts floating. You levitate the thing. It’s pretty trippy.

I tested this out a few months ago and wrote about it for Popular Science. The itch to try it for myself was strong enough that I actually put that ridiculous thing on my head in a public place, and tried to be the ball. The headband has a sensor — a dry contact electrode — that rests on your forehead just above the left eyebrow, over the SP-1 region of your brain’s frontal lobe. That’s the part of your noodle involved in things like problem solving, motor function, memory, language and judgment. (Clips on your ear lobes take a baseline reading as a control.) When activity in the area increases, the game runs an algorithm to translate that into a level of concentration, which then determines the level, or height of the ball. The headband and game base communicate over a wireless bandwidth similar to Bluetooth. Amazingly, you look like even more of an asshole in this contraption than the jerks with their LED-flashing earpieces. Added bonus.

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