DJ Fresh Composes EP Using Mind Reading Technology
Article Ref: #DJFreshMindReading
DJ Fresh, a producer and DJ famous for hits such as ‘Hot Right Now’, has provided his musical talents to an exciting project featuring physically disabled musicians who composed music through the use of “mind reading” technology.
Three musicians, all of whom are confined to wheelchairs and are paralysed, were able to produce music through the use of electroencephalographic (try saying that after a few Smirnoffs!) devices, that work by reading electronic activity across the scalp, through the use of a headset. Once attached to the users head, the headset picks up on signals that can be identified as the user thinking about a certain musical event, such as a bass drop. This is then mapped, and translated into sound. The technology was developed by Julien Castet, a cognitive interface specialist who works for Immersion SAS. Not only does the headset map brainwaves, but it can recognise facial movements as well. It can be programmed to recognise certain facial movements as certain effects – so that smiling will produce an echo effect, for example – allowing the musician to add extra layers on to their compositions whilst maintaining the same thought. This allows for more improvisation, and it could be argued that it makes the headset behave more like a real instrument.
Similar technology has been used before. Neurosky have previously used electroencephalographic technology to create ‘The Melon’, a headband that uses an app to improve your brain, in a sort of ‘Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training’ on steroids sort of way. Necomimi, on the other hand, have used the technology that controls a set of electronic cat ears so that they move according to the wearer’s mood. However, whilst brain-training games and cat ears certainly have interesting real world applications, Castet’s headset may be the best use of this technology yet. Through allowing people who’s physical limitations stop them from becoming musicians to play instruments, they are given a creative outlet that many able bodied people take for granted. One of the members of the band, known as Mindtunes, has said in a promotional video that is available on youtube, that “It’s amazing. For someone who is paralyzed you can feel so much going on through your body”. One can only hope that they will be made commercially available.
DJ Fresh was responsible for mixing the track that the musicians created. In an interview with Wired.co.uk, he spoke about his fascination with the technology. He claimed “Since I was a little kid I always thought it would be amazing to make music with your mind. People that don’t even have the ability to move their hands or even move… basically use technology to make music”.
The project was sponsored by The Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) and Smirnoff. A representative for the QEF has said “The first time I heard the music was amazing, to see people making their own decisions and being part of this wonderful project. ”The band’s single, ‘Mindtunes’, is available through iTunes for just 99p. Give it a listen, it is truly inspiring stuff.