Sometimes life on our planet can seem so full of goodness and wonder. The following will hopefully rock your world, making all those incredible things we take for granted – mobile phones, the internet, Google Glasses, babies to name but a few – seem utterly insignificant. Well, ok, never ever babies but definitely the internet.
Neurotechnology expert Julien Castet and the chart topping British electronic music producer DJ Fresh were brought together by the Smirnoff Mindtunes project to make it possible for Andy, Mark and Jo, 3 music lovers who sadly cannot play regular instruments due to their disability, to create a music track controlling musical software with nothing but their mind. Yes, you read correctly – with nothing but their mind. Sounds unbelievable? How is this possible?
Smirnoff Mindtunes uses Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI), which makes it possible for users to send commands to computers by using only their brain activity. For this particular case Julien Castet used an Electroencephalography device (EEG). This measures the electrical activity of the brain on the scalp and the advantages of this method are that it is portable, non-invasive, and cost effective.
Castet’s previous works dealt with haptic interfaces, 3D interaction, musical interaction, and brain-computer interfaces. A prolific author, in the UK, he is mostly known for his scientific research using brain signals to replace traditional interfaces such as keyboards, mouse or voice to express musically. BCI systems are an incredible tool for physically disabled people as they make it possible to communicate and be creative regardless on their ability to move.
In the Smirnoff Mindtunes platform each musician had his very own interface, which had visual feedback. This interface was based on emotion detection, such as noticing relaxation, interest, a smile, movement of eyes and so on. Every detection was linked with musical input to play a clip, filter, delay etc. This mapping can then be tailor made to the individual musician depending on their physical constraints and obviously their musical ideas. When you watch the YouTube link it is deeply touching to see DJ Fresh’s wide-eyed excitement and the intense concentration on the 3 musicians faces as they create a multi-facetted track using just the one instrument – their brain.
BCI has many potential applications. The Smirnoff Mindtunes project – the first of its kind – focuses on how this technology can be used to transform brain activity and emotions into music, thus making it possible to create music despite physical barriers.
Smirnoff are renowned for pioneering innovation and Smirnoff Mindtunes is the first in a series that will show how we all have the potential to be creative. Not only does Smirnoff Mindtunes demonstrate this in the most technically avant-garde fashion possible, it will also raise money for a charity that makes it possible for many thousand disabled people to realize their true potential every year. That charity is QEF, Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, a leading national disability charity with more than 75 years’ experience of developing innovative services that enable and support people across the UK to increase independence, gain new life skills and improve opportunities for life.
All proceeds generated from the sale of the track will go to The Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People, you can make all these amazing things happen simply by buying the track. And by telling your friends to do the same.
Remember always to enjoy Smirnoff sensibly. For more information visit www.drinkaware.co.uk
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, DJ Fresh, Julien Castet, SMIRNOFF Mindtunes,