Brainwave-to-music helmet hits Adelaide Fringe

Internode-sponsored event puts SKot McDonald’s product on show

Internode will help to transform brain signals into music with a BrainWave helmet and its accompanying software at Adelaide’s Fringe Festival.

Called Internode Powered by Brains, the free event kicks off at midday today in Rundle Mall, where Fringe attendees will be invited to use the sensor-rich helmet.

The BrainWave helmet and software is the product of Australian computer music scientist, SKot McDonald. It works by reading the electrical state of the human brain, converting signals into pieces of music.

The headset contains 14 channel ElectroEncephaloGram (EEG) sensors and a solid-state gyroscope which is monitored by the software to track the subject’s physical and emotional state.

Based on raw voltage produced by each electrode, the software uses the input to control rhythmic and melodic elements, creating a unique piece of music.

McDonald said, “we can detect the user’s level of calm, frustration or excitement and thus vary the tempo, filter positions or even the chords generated in the music.”

“So a calm user might hear a slow tempo with pleasing chords and an uncomplicated arpeggiation, whereas a frustrated, agitated user will hear a fast-paced piece with clashing chords and garish sounds.”

Internode is getting behind the project as it allows anyone to play with technology.

“We think it will really tap into the mindset of folk during Mad March when they’re out and about taking in all the festivities at our Node-sponsored events,” iiNet digital marketing manager, Jane Orchard, said.

“It came from the idea that Internode is powered by hundreds of brilliant people, so we wanted to celebrate the power of the human brain to make amazing things happen.”

Adelaide Fringe is an annual, open-access arts festival which will take place from February 14 to March 16 this year. It includes visual art, cabaret, comedy, circus, physical theatre, dance, film, and design. The 2013 instalment featured more than 4000 artists in 930 events and 6139 performances.

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