Design Group Italia’s IoT team has recently been awarded a 2nd place prize for its concept project Mindswing, presented at the Wearable Technology 2016 competition, which took place during Venice Design Week. The project will be exhibited at Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice until the end of October.
Mindswing started about a year ago as an internal research project focused on finding new application fields for BCIs (Brain-Computer Interfaces).
In the most basic applications, which require a few electrodes to be placed around the head, these kinds of interfaces enable users to receive feedback about their mental activity and are used in commercial products to help with relaxation and developing mindfulness.
The most advanced research projects, which use many more electrodes and are trying to use the signals coming from the brain to control some kind of system, are currently being tested on subjects with physical disabilities to help them interact with the world.
The DGI team decided sports could be an interesting field of application, and more specifically, golf. Universities had already conducted some research in this area, showing promising results in performance improvement for golf players. The team used these studies as a starting point for the project.
How It works
The Mindswing system is composed of two pieces of hardware and a smartphone app:
- The Headband is worn around the head and collects brainwaves and signals; a bone-conduction audio system provides aural feedback without blocking the user’s hearing.
- The Glove Sensor attaches to the golfer’s glove and records the movement of the club during shots; a button on top of the sensor enables the user to mark each shot as good or bad, thus training the system to associate specific brainwave patterns with good shots
- The smartphone app uses Bluetooth to collect data from both the Headband and the Glove Sensor, analyzing and providing real-time feedback during the preparation phase before the shot, and analytics about the quality of the movement after the shot.
The use is divided into two phases: the first requires the user to make 80-100 shots and indicate for each one if it was good or bad; this step is necessary to create a brainwave profile associated with good shots, which is unique for each golfer. After that, the user can begin to receive feedback during the preparation phase before each shot, being notified of when he is at the maximum concentration level and should actually do the shot.
The user experience has been crafted to minimize the use of the smartphone during the training session. In fact, it is only necessary to look at the smartphone to begin the session, and at the end to see the results, along with suggestions for how to improve technique.
At the moment, the team is trying to create an initial working prototype that could be used to test in the field with real golfers. This prototype will be used to evaluate Mindswing’s performance improvement capabilities.