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Diagnosing Concussions by Radar

Radar guns and software can spot a brain injury by looking at the way a person walks

3 min read

17 May 2011—Want to insult someone’s intelligence? Tell him he doesn’t have the mental capacity to walk and chew gum at the same time. But it turns out that the inability to handle two seemingly simple tasks simultaneously may be the key to determining whether a person has suffered a serious brain injury.

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, in Smyrna, have developed a radar system that shows there is a demonstrable difference between the way a healthy person and a person suffering from a concussion walk if they are given a cognitive task to perform while doing so. When asked to stroll a few meters, turn around, and come back while engaged in a mental task, a concussed person will exhibit movement that is slower and jerkier than that of a healthy subject.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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