The Israeli startup InnerEye and the neurotechnology company Emotiv, based in Silicon Valley, in the United States, presented artificial intelligence (AI) devices that promise to “scan” the brains of employees, including those who work remotely.
According to the websites of these companies, these devices have sensors capable of detecting electrical activity in different areas of the brain, allowing these parameters to be correlated with feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus and reaction to external stimuli.
The goal, according to its creators, is to make workers happier and more efficient, connecting humans and machines to increase productivity and ensure the well-being of employees, helping them to make decisions faster and more accurately.
The technology used by these companies is based on electroencephalography (EEG), a technique that has been around for about a century and is generally used in medical applications and in neuroscience research to monitor brain activity in real time.
The difference is in the way these devices interact with the human mind. Rather than a tangle of wires attached to the wearer’s scalp, InnerEye and Emotiv have developed headphones that can operate without a conductive gel, reducing the number of electrodes needed to interpret the brain’s electrical impulses.
“While the public may not have received the official memo, experts say the neurotechnology is mature and ready for commercial applications. This is not science fiction, it is technology and can be applied on a large scale”, said the head of neuroethics studies at Georgetown University Medical Center, in the USA, James Giordano, to the IEEE Spectrum website.
The systems created by both InnerEye and Emotiv use deep learning algorithms to classify EEG signals and turn them into codes that can be interpreted to determine directly related actions of loss of focus or inattention.
InnerEye’s device measures focus very precisely, and if the user blinks or stops concentrating momentarily, the system detects it and re-displays the missed images. Emotiv headphones, on the other hand, have scanning sensors capable of tracking brain metrics, allowing a real-time assessment of the user’s emotional state.
According to its creators, all data captured by the devices cannot be accessed by employers individually. Instead, they receive aggregated information to get a sense of the attention and stress levels of a team or department in the workplace.
“I think there is significant interest from employers in using these technologies. However, I don’t know if there is the same interest on the part of the employees”, said the founder of the Institute of Neuroethics (IoNx) in an interview with the IEEE Spectrum website.