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Techniques & Tools Spectroscopy, Technology

Measuring Your Brain Activity on Google Glass

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...

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  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).

About the Author

Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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