Measuring Your Brain Activity on Google Glass

Neuroergonomics, smartwear, spectroscopic brain imaging... Analytical science has never felt so futuristic

February 2017

Neuroergonomics was defined by the late Raja Parasuraman as “the study of the human brain in relation to performance at work and in everyday settings” (1). But working against his vision is the fact that brain imaging studies tend to be restricted to artificial settings and simulations of actual tasks because of data collection limitations (for example, being tied to a large MRI machines). So when Hasan Ayaz (Drexel University) presented Raja Parasuraman and Ryan McKendrick (both of George Mason University) with the opportunity to ‘play’ with truly mobile neuroimaging, they were excited. And they came up with an interesting experiment: testing the performance benefits of ‘smart’ eyewear.

Participants were asked to walk round a college campus using Google Glass or a handheld device with Google Maps, while wearing a functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) headband for brain activity analysis (2). We asked Ryan McKendrick and Hasan Ayaz to tell us what they discovered when they took their neuroimaging technique to the streets...

  1. R Parasuraman et al., “Neuroergonomics: The brain in action and at work,” Neuroimage, vol. 59, 1-3, (2012).
  2. R McKendrick et al., “Into the wild: neuroergonomic differentiation of hand-held and augmented reality wearable displays during outdoor navigation with functional near infrared spectroscopy”, Front Hum Neurosci, 10, 216 (2016).

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