XTech Brain Hackathon
Good brain-hacking, everyone! This was an exceptionally exciting week for neurohackers as San Francisco hosted the 4th annual Experiential Technology & Neurogaming Conference and Expo (XTech). I had the pleasure of attending the Hackathon, which preceded the conference. The Hackathon is an exploratory and competitive event which provides an opportunity to listen and learn from neurotech industry leaders as well as compete for prizes and tickets the main event (the conference itself). The founder of this event, Zach Lynch (pictured) is also the author of The Neuro Revolution, which takes you through a mind-bending journey into the future of the neurotechnology that will change everything from how we learn to how we manage our health! That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so I strongly recommend reading this book if you desire enlightenment into where and how the technology of the mind is heading.
Just in case you stumbled here by accident, or by way of Googling for meditation or neuroscience, but aren't familiar with the growing neurohacking/brain-hacking movement, here's neurohacking in a nutshell: Neurohacking is a broad term for developing, exploring, and seeking means and methods to define, quantify, and manipulate the brain/mind in order to understand, enhance, and even extend the capacities of the mind. Neurotechnology is the means, which include all the methods and gadgetry used to do so. New methods and tools are being created by industry and DIYers as you read this. The Wall Street Journal did a piece called The Weird World of Brain Hacking that primarily focused on the potential risks of hackers using brain stimulation devices, but that is only one facet of brain-hacking. I will write more on my thoughts and experiences on this topic later.
Participants in the Hackathon stretched their creative and technical minds and presented a myriad of fascinating project including neuromessenging, which allows brain-to-brain synchronization to move objects toward each other on a screen, and ideally, enabling those synchronized minds to feel understanding and empathy toward one-another. Another group was creating a competitive meditation application to enable participants to challenge each other to reach better, faster meditative states. One group pursued the challenges of creating a shared music experience between persons, and provided visual feedback to identify a liking or preference for the music. Another developer was creating an application to quantify and train meditative states using operant conditioning. Some creators were developing a game that used stimuli to make people smile and confirmed the success of the objective by monitoring smile muscles through EMG activity in the face. The winner of this competition developed a collective meditation application with a sound feedback engine. The conference and Hackathon will return next year, so do look into attending next year - it's a one-of-a-kind event.