American Startup Has Used Brain-Reading Headbands on 10,000 Chinese Students So Far

A Chinese American startup has come under fire after netizens discovered that children have been wearing their brain-reading headbands at school.

BrainCo Inc., based in Somerville, Massachusetts developed their Focus 1 headbands to monitor concentration through built-in electroencephalogram (EEG) scanners that read and translate brain signals.

In January, BrainCo tested the device on 10,000 children aged 10 to 17 at an unidentified school in China, according to New Scientist.

The company has also signed with a local distributor to provide 20,000 headbands, suggesting further rollout.

A recent photo showing students at an unnamed primary school in China wearing Focus 1 headbands drew massive backlash. Image via BrainCo

“Our goal with the first 20,000 devices, each of which will be used by multiple students in schools, is to capture data from 1.2 million people,” BrainCo founder and chief executive officer Bicheng Han told The Independent.

Teachers monitor students’ attention through an app, while lights on the device allow for an instant survey of their concentration levels.

Image via YouTube / BrainCo

Blue indicates relaxed; yellow indicates focused; and finally, red indicates very focused.

Aside from monitoring concentration, data from the headbands can reportedly be used to design games that train focus, which students may play to prepare for classes.

Image via YouTube / BrainCo

Critics including neuroscientists and psychologists have since questioned the effectiveness of the technology, pointing out that the natural variation in neurological activity can result to misleading assumptions, The Epoch Times noted.

In response to the recent backlash, BrainCo issued a statement on April 5 reiterating that the headbands aim to improve learning efficiency and that they have not been sold to public schools, Inkstone News reported.

BrainCo releases a statement on April 4. Image via Weibo / BrainCo

Still, it’s unclear whether the headbands will eventually be integrated into China’s increasing network of citizen surveillance, which recently set eyes on uncivilized tourists through facial recognition.

Interestingly, several companies in the country have already been using mind-reading helmets that supposedly measure emotional states and boost productivity levels, the South China Morning Post noted.

Featured Images via BrainCo

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