Mind-Reading Cat Ears for Sale in U.S.
A Japanese company has just started selling motorized cat ears that move in response to emotions it detects from the electrical activity of wearers' brains.
CREDIT: Neurowear and Neurosky
Many researchers study how to measure the electrical signals the brain gives off to control prosthetic limbs or diagnose neurological diseases, but one new device has a slightly less lofty goal. A Japanese company has started selling pairs of plush cat ears that perk, droop and wiggle in response to emotions the ears detect from wearers' brainwaves.
The ears are attached to a headband that records the electrical activity of the brain as an electroencephalogram (EEG), the Los Angeles Times reported. Doctors use EEG tests to diagnose seizures and other neurological illnesses.
When the device, called Necomimi, senses that its wearer is relaxed, its motor-controlled ears lie flat. When the wearer focuses his or her attention suddenly, the ears stand up. If someone is relaxed but focused at the same time, the ears wiggle.
Necomimi's makers debuted the idea for emotive kitty ears on YouTube in March 2011. Their video went viral, garnering 2.5 million views. "We've been working on putting a real product together ever since," Tansy Brook, a representative from Neurosky, the company that provided Necomimi' brainwave-detecting technology, told the Los Angeles Times.
The real-life product launched at Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif., held July 12 through July 15. People in the U.S. can purchase them now for about $100 at the official website and through authorized dealers. One dealer, Image Anime in New York City, got its first shipment about a month ago, Image Anime's owner, Wing Leung, told InnovationNewsDaily.
"It's very popular. People know what it is," Leung said. He wouldn't share his sales numbers, but said he has sold "a good amount."
"We were very impressed when we first saw it," he added.
Necomimi is the first product by the design firm Neurowear. The company plans to make other fashion items with biosensors, according to its website.
Watch the ears at work here: