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News Link • Techno Gadgets

A Computer Interface that Takes a Load Off Your Mind

•, Kate Greene
 Conversations between people include a lot more than just words. All sorts of visual and aural cues indicate each party's state of mind and make for a productive interaction.

But a furrowed brow, a gesticulating hand, and a beaming smile are all lost on computers. Now, researchers at MIT and Tufts are experimenting with a way for computers to gain a little insight into our inner world.

Their system, called Brainput, is designed to recognize when a person's workload is excessive and then automatically modify a computer interface to make it easier. The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology, called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), that determines when a person is multitasking. Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a system that adjusted the user's workload at those times. A computing system with Brainput could, in other words, learn to give you a break.

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