Mobile app reads brainwaves to manage calls

This app is among increasing list of technology innovation that rely on brainwaves for navigation

A mobile app under development can filter phone calls and reroute them directly to voicemail by reading brain waves, cutting the need for users to press buttons on the smartphone screen.

The app, called Good Times, is the brainchild of Ruggero Scorcioni, CEO and founder of Brainyno, who presented the technology at the AT&T Innovation Showcase in New York, where some of the company's top research projects were highlighted.

The app analyses brainwaves as a phone call comes in, and depending on a person's mental state, reroutes a call. Information about brain waves is collected by a headset and sent to the smartphone via a Bluetooth connection, after which the app uses algorithms to analyse the status of a brain.

For example, a call could be rerouted if a person is deep in meditation or just very busy and does not want to be distracted, said Scorcioni, who was wearing a headset from Neurosky to demonstrate the technology. There are other headsets from companies like Emotiv that can also capture brainwaves.

But not everyone is going to wear a headset, and Scorcioni hopes that wearable technology products like Google Glasses will be able to record and send brainwaves to smartphones. Other challenges exist too, such as correctly reading the brainwaves to determine mental states, but Scorcioni said the technology will get better over time.

Good Times was introduced after Scorcioni won an AT&T mobile application hackathon contest in January at the International CES show in Las Vegas. Future developments include the addition of advanced algorithms to decipher more mental states, and the ability for a mobile device to play music depending on a person's mood.

Scorcioni could not say when the technology would reach users. But there are opportunities for the technology to be used in places like call centres, where employees already wear headsets, and incoming calls could be redirected to agents in relaxed mental states.

Good Times was just one of many applications at ATT's showcase, highlighting research related to mobile device usages. Another project, the StorEBook Reader, uses AT&T's Text-to-Speech technology for a tablet or smartphone to automatically read children's books in multiple tones and voices, while technology also was displayed that uses voice recognition to unlock smartphones and log into email accounts.

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