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Mindflix would make Netflix and chill even more chill. | Courtesy Netflix.
Mindflix would make Netflix and chill even more chill. | Courtesy Netflix.

Mindflix: Is Controlling Netflix With Your Mind the Future?

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 31 January 2017

Netflix engineers created the ideal gadget for the ultimate couch potato this week: a device that lets you control Netflix with your mind. The system, built during a company hackathon, uses a modified version of a Muse headband, one of the many wearable devices available that claim to be able to read your mind.

The engineers added a motion sensor to the headband, allowing users to browse through titles by moving their head from side to side. Viewers can then select a movie or TV show by concentrating on the play button, as explained in the video below.

Netflix runs its Hack Days sporadically, and they are not supposed to be entirely serious. “Hack Day is a way for our product development team to take a break from everyday work, have fun, experiment with new technologies, and collaborate with new people,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Brain tracking wearables can’t read your mind in the same way a psychic may claim to, but they can track the brain’s electrical activities, according to the manufacturers. These devices include MindWave by NeuroSky, the Muse device used by the Netflix engineers, and BrainCo.

BrainCo recently showcased its products at CES in Las Vegas, using a headband to control a robotic arm. The company is also attempting to put its headbands into the classrooms, where they can be used to measure the concentration levels of school pupils. The problem with these products is that it’s unclear how well they work. There are possibilities they are picking up electronic signals from other sources, as well as failing to pick up the electronic signals from the brain.

BrainCo's product in the classroom. | Courtesy BrainCo.

BrainCo’s product in the classroom. | Courtesy BrainCo.

There are many innovative new ways to control devices, including the impressive progress voice recognition technology has made in recent years. The thought of controlling a device with your thoughts may seem enticing, but it seems the tech has a long way to go yet.

“While we’re excited about the creativity and thought put into these hacks, they may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or otherwise be used beyond Hack Day. We are posting them here publicly to share the spirit of the event and our culture of innovation,” the Netflix blog post concluded. Perhaps it’s for the best.