Wearable Research – Tracy Leong

Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears

Practice It Works In

Designed by Neurowear, the Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears consists of a set of motors that are cleverly disguised under the cat ears and move according to the user’s brainwaves (picked up by the sensors on the ears and forehead).

If you’re happy, the ears perk up! If you’re bored or sad, the ears droop downwards. They are immensely popular amongst cosplayers and at comic conventions as they help to bring anime/manga characters to life.

Its Specific Use

The Necomimi Ears are more of a novelty item than a wearable designed to help improve an activity. The ears provide feedback that reflect the emotions going through the user’s mind, so people in the surrounding will know how you’re feeling internally even though your poker face might be amazing.

They have been used in cosplay, dressing up (halloween?) and as entertainment at parties. Interestingly, my high school Psychology teacher once made each of us put on a pair of Necomimi Cat Ears during class and used it as a gauge to monitor our attention levels throughout the lesson. Of course, the person with droopy cat ears often got called upon.

Mobility

Similar to the design of a pair of headphones, I would consider the Necomimi Cat Ears to be rather mobile as it is lightweight and portable. No electricity is needed and simply pop a AAA battery in and you’re good to go!

Utility versus Fashionability

Although it isn’t clear what the use of this novelty item is, I’d say its utility is in its ability to bring anime/manga/comic characters to life. That being said, it balances both utility and fashion well as the ears are simply cloth covers that can be swapped out for a variety of other colors and designs. Fancy wolf ears instead? Going for a different style? There’s a huge diversity to choose from.

However, the brain sensors that require you to clip onto your left ear and in the middle of the forehead do take away from the overall (slightly tacky) fashion of the item as it breaks the belief of real cat ears.

Neurocam

Practice It Works In

Also designed by Neurowear, Neurocam is a wearable headset that analyzes the brainwaves of the user as they view their surroundings in real life. A value measures how much they “like” or “take interest” in a particular scenery and reflects it on the iPhone attached to the side.

At first glance, this may seem like another novelty item and can be used by anyone. As one article aptly put it, Neurocam lets people around you know how much you hate them.

Its Specific Use

Using the camera at the side, the Neurocam records what the user sees while the brain sensors (in similar fashion to the Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears) transmit the user’s brain waves. The algorithm then reflects how much the user enjoys what they’re seeing on the iPhone display attached on a scale of 1 to 100. Anything more than 60 will be recorded down in five second gifs which the user can playback at the end of their day. These gifs are available for download and can be uploaded to social media. Hence, making it an interesting tool for influencers/content creators to record the ‘highlights’ of their day and post content for their audience.

Another one of Neurocam’s uses is conducting market research to figure out what consumers like and dislike, in order to better develop stores. Additionally, its designers have discussed adding ’emotion tagging’ in the future – which will tag certain emotions (e.g. anger, sadness, happiness) to their respective recordings. Perhaps this could be used to figure out what triggers certain people and to further studies in Psychology.

Mobility

Again, similar to Necomimi, the Neurocam is lightweight and portable as it’s design follows that of a headphone. The only drawback might be the iPhone attached to the side that will add some weight to the headset.

Utility versus Fashionability

It’s evident that the designers kept to a clean minimalist look with its all white facade and sharp lines – giving it a futuristic vibe. However, it faces the same issue as Necomimi with regard to the obtrusive brain sensors and iPhone. In addition, some users may be deterred in using it if they have to keep a phone pressed up against their head throughout the entire time. 

Nonetheless, it does look like something high-tech and sci-fi, so I think it’s a small win for fashion!

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