Ever wanted to relax and flick through Netflix, but all that button pressing on the remote is just too much effort? Fear not, as a team of Netflix engineers have developed a mind-sensing piece of software that makes loading up your favorite shows simpler than ever. All you need to do is strap on a headband and have a little think.
MindFlix, a mind control addition to the Netflix interface, was made by employees Ben Hands, Sagar Patil, Steve Henderson, and Andy Law at the company headquarters during its 24-hour winter 2017 hack day, the results of which were published on Monday. The feature is impressive: Law is able to control the user interface by turning his head up, down, left and right. To play something, all he needs to do is think about the word “play.”
Other hacks developed during the event were a picture-in-picture mode for watching two shows at once, a Stranger Things sweater controlled wirelessly that spells out messages, a donation screen that appears after watching socially-conscious shows, and a retro Stranger Things video game.
The MindFlix project uses a Muse headband, a Bluetooth-enabled electroencephalogram (EEG) device that can detect brain waves and transmit them to a smartphone or other connected device. The product is made by Interaxon and is designed for pairing with a real-time meditation app, but Netflix’s engineers were able to use the band for their own creations.
Whether it works as well as the video suggests is unclear. The team clearly put a lot of effort into making the video, but while EEG products like VERE robots and Neste headphones have demonstrated there’s a potential market for such devices, the technology remains on the fringes of consumer gadget trends. Like with most technologies, it’s usually until manufacturers have had time to refine their product by testing with a wide range of users that it grows into a reliable piece of kit. Considering how MindFlix is a hack day project that uses a third party sensor, it would be surprising if it really was as simple as donning the headband without any calibrations and thinking “play.”
Watch the project in action here: