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Technology

Hitachi's wearable monitor designed for all

The device is small and lightweight.

TOKYO -- Hitachi High-Technologies has developed a wearable brain activity monitor that is geared for use by the general public as a learning aid or way to boost brain function.

     The Japanese company hopes to have a commercial version ready in 2016, which it will sell bundled with software like quiz games and study-aid services.

     Based on a technology called optical topography developed by parent Hitachi, the device uses near infrared light to measure and image hemodynamics in the cerebral cortex, where increases in blood flow volumes are associated with heightened brain activity.

     The user wears a headset that takes measurements from both sides of the brain and transmits the data to a smartphone app using wireless technology Bluetooth low energy. The smartphone running the app can display the measured brain activity in real time.

     Since the smartphone does all the data processing, the headset is simple, small and lightweight. The prototype weighs just 110 grams, including the battery, and commercial versions will probably sell for only around 10,000 yen to 15,000 yen ($84 to $126).

     Users can attach the headset themselves, and because the device is light and unfettered by cables, they can measure brain activity while going about their daily business.

     Hitachi High-Technologies will collaborate with universities and research institutions to determine the technology's full potential, and has set a worldwide sales goal of 1 million units for 2020.

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