Japanese Company Neurowear Creates Wearable, Brainwave Controlled Cat Ears

If you’re crazy cat ladies like everyone here at Techyum, then like us, you know how expressive cats can be. And I’m not just talking about the presents they leave after terrorizing the local rodent population, the gift of shredded curtains, or loving tokens of having eaten too much food too fast and being overcome with the spirit of sharing in the hallway in the middle of the night.

No, I’m talking about their adorable ears. When your kitteh is pissed off, cat guardians know that the ears are often the first indicator that you’re going to lose a pint of blood if you don’t stop petting immediately. Or, perky and inquisitive ears adorably tell you that kitteh is interested in what you have to say, especially if you’re speaking the language of can opener or treat.

To the delight of cat owners like me that like all things kitteh perhaps a bit more than I should, and definitely to the excitement of furries the world over, Japanese company Neurowear has produced a prototype of brainwave controlled cat ears to be worn by humans.

I’ve done a significant bit of research on brainwave controlled consumer products. I have covered Neurosky and OCZ for CerebralHack, visiing both companies and tested their products, including OCZ’s Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA) and Neuorsky’s Brain Computer Interface (BCI) games. Video of me at Neurosky using their BCI and moving objects in the game with their headset and my brainwaves, is here.

(We love Neurosky on Techyum: don’t miss our post about their X-Wave Mind Interface Device for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

So it’s with great interest that I’m thinking about what it would be like to wrap a set of Necomimi’s on my head. Necomimi is a combination of the Japanese words for cat and ear): they look likea cat ear headband a teenage girl might buy at Claire’s (in the mall) around Halloween. The band has a sensor on the forehead area that transmits neural impulses into the rig, which causes the ears to move based on what kind of signals it receives. The response is said to be from thoughts or moods – but in my experience with BCI, it is actually difficult to control as they require a strange combination of relaxation and focus. According to Psyorg, the ears “stand straight up when the wearer is concentrating, or wriggle and turn slightly when amused, or lay flat when tired or bored, demonstrating what the company calls, an ability to reveal emotion.”

But we may not find out how well the Necomimi works, if at all, for a while. It looks like one prototype has been made, and was taken to a conference with an exhibit hall – but the Neurowear website and their Facebook page are brand new, and quite sparse. So little is to be found about the product or the company, I would think it’s a prank – if they hadn’t shot this video of people trying out the Necomimi at the Smile Bazar convention in Shibuya, Tokyo (April 28):

Regardless, I want a pair really bad. In black. And yes, I’ve emailed Neurowear asking how to get a set of Necomimi’s for review, as I’d gladly cover them for CBSi. I really sort of need a set of Necomimi… So far, the company (if they’re really a company) has not responded to inquiries. Keep your paws crossed.

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