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The Encephalophone is a Musical Instrument You Control with Your Mind

The Encephalophone is a Musical Instrument You Control with Your Mind

It can be challenging to be good at piano if you have short fingers, at trumpet if you have low lung capacity, or at drums if you can’t coordinate your hands and feet. For those of us who relate to these woes but who still wish to bring music into the world, there’s the encephalophone: maybe the least physically inclined instrument of all time. If you can think it, you can play it–this thing is completely mind-controlled (via Noisey).

In essence, it works like this: The person playing it wears an electrode-laden hat, which detects the wearer’s brain waves. These waves are then fed to a synthesizer in a way the instrument can understand, producing string, piano, and other sounds. But as anybody who’s thought about an elephant after being told not to knows, our brains aren’t always that easy to control. The instrument can be set off by any thoughts or even facial movements. So, like any other instrument, the encephalophone will take concentration and practice to really master.

Led by Dr. Thomas Deuel, the device was developed by researchers at the University of Washington, and its appeal goes beyond music. While that aspect of it is certainly novel, the encephalophone also has the potential to help treat neurological problems caused by things like ALS or strokes.

In the video above, Deuel is playing his instrument pretty competently with a full jazz band, reclined and in as relaxed a position as possible, presumably to not erroneously set off any electrodes. Is this something you’d want to try out, or are you scared of the sounds your brain would make? Let us know!

Featured image: Thomas Deuel/Vimeo


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