Making (brain) waves beyond the holiday season

Toronto start-up turns thought-controlled technology into fun, interactive products & events

TORONTO, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - Brain-controlled games are among 2009's hottest holiday toys, but the minds behind Canadian upstart and MaRS client InteraXon have been pushing the frontier of brainwave technology through their engaging products and events for years.

In the last year, the technology long used by researchers to measure brain activity has become affordable enough for some toy makers to incorporate it into their toys and video games. This year's most popular brain-controlled games include:

    
    -   Uncle Milton's Star Wars Force Trainer, a game that has kids
        strapping on headsets and using their thoughts to levitate a ball
        with "The Force";
    -   EPOC's Emotiv headset, a video gaming headset that allows gamers to
        provide basic inputs with thoughts alone; and
    -   Mattel's MindFlex, a "mental acuity" game where players use their
        powers of concentration to move a ball through an obstacle course.
    

"The simple toys that we see on the market now are just the first tremors of what will be an eruption of thought-controlled devices," says InteraXon's lead researcher Ariel Garten, an artist, scientist and psychotherapist. "Within 10 years, this technology will be wide-spread and Canada is poised to lead the world."

And in Canada, InteraXon is at the head of the pack when it comes to developing innovative applications for the brain-computer interface technology. By using the same technologies found in these toys, InteraXon creates cutting edge products and experiences for their clients. Controlling electronic devices using your brain may sound like something straight out of a sci-fi film, but it's all in a day's work for Toronto's "little piece of techno-Neverland."

"We design experiences around thought-controlled computing. It's our business to make the technology usable and accessible," explains Trevor Coleman, InteraXon's Director of Operations.

These experiences could be anything from pouring a can of cola to levitating a chair, all using pure brain power. At the 2009 Ontario Premier's Innovation Awards (http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/pia/program.asp), the InteraXon team demonstrated a brainwave-controlled musical and visual performance. The experience proved to be one of the award gala's most popular: even Premier Dalton McGuinty couldn't resist a chance to try the InteraXon installation (http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/news.asp?id=53191).

As an early-stage start up, InteraXon has worked closely with MaRS advisors and staff to develop their business plan and strategize focused marketing. Greg Pelling, MaRS advisor and Senior Vice President of Sierra Systems, says, "InteraXon represents a new kind of company where technological innovation and social creativity intersect to create new experiences with mass market appeal. The company continues to develop new opportunities and win market recognition for its vision and drive to succeed. They are managing the disciplined balance between short-term business growth and success, and the need for strategic planning and creating a sustainable future."

"MaRS' assistance has been invaluable in bringing this technology to market," says Coleman. "It's a privilege to have the support of some of the greatest business minds in the country."

About MaRS

MaRS Discovery District (www.marsdd.com) is a large scale, mission driven innovation centre located in Toronto and networked across Ontario, focused on building Canada's next generation of technology companies. MaRS works closely with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders in life sciences and health care, information, communications and digital media technologies, clean tech, advanced materials and energy, as well as innovative social purpose business.

About InteraXon

InteraXon (www.interaxon.ca) specializes in designing and creating brainwave-controlled products and experiences. It offers consulting services to companies looking to engage in the emerging thought-controlled technology market. Thought controlled computing is the future of human computer interaction. What was once science fiction can be your company's advantage.

SOURCE MaRS Discovery District

For further information: For further information: To learn more about this amazing technology or to book an interview, contact: Trevor Coleman at (416) 859-0921 or trevor@interaxon.ca; Ariel Garten at (416) 839-9943 or ariel@interaxon.ca; Linda Quattrin at (416) 673-8104 or lquattrin@marsdd.com


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