Students In China Trialling New Brainwave-Detecting Headbands That Track Attention Levels
It looks like playing Snake on your phone at the back of the room is a thing of the past for students, as children in China are trialling new 'brainwave-detecting' headbands that track engagement and attention levels during class.
The Focus1 headbands have been developed by Massachusetts-based start-up BrainCo, which was founded by Chinese engineer Han Bicheng.
He has a PhD from the Center of Brain Science at Harvard University - and was also included in the Forbes China's 30 under 30 (a ranking of exciting Chinese entrepreneurs), and MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 - but now works with a team in Boston to try and improve learning in the classroom.
According to the BrainCo website, the technology helps provide teachers with feedback that is 'real-time in class, contextually relevant, and ongoing', which enables them to make 'sustained improvements in their skills'.
The £380 ($490) Focus1 headband features sensors, engineered to enable 'individual use or to integrate dozens of headbands' that can be managed or monitored simultaneously through a single portal of dashboard, with 'real-time individual and aggregate metrics'.
The lightweight headsets weight just 95g and have a battery life of up to four hours - which should just about keep you going through a double period of maths.
The company claims: "With BrainCo's brainwave-detecting headbands and software platform, educators can track student engagement and class attention levels as they're happening."
Last year, Han donated 50 of the headbands to his alma mater, Xiaoshun Central Primary School in Jinhua, eastern China.
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The school has now been trialling the cutting-edge products for nearly a year, with Han telling New Scientist that the pilot project had led to improved grades among participants.
He also claims students needed to spend less time on homework thanks to the devices.
Zhang Yiwei, a language teacher at the school told The Wall Street Journal that students 'feel as if they are being monitored and feel the need to read louder, to pay attention'.
"It's like a psychological hint," Zhang said.
After using the device for half a semester, Zhang's class moved up two places in test-result ranking among all of the school's fourth-grade classrooms.
"The change was really obvious when I first used the headbands in a lesson," Zhang said.
"The voice with which they answered my questions was so much louder."
BrainCo has now signed a deal to provide 20,000 headbands to a Chinese distributor, so maybe we might see these headbands in classrooms (and offices?!) of the future.
Featured Image Credit: BrainCo