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Read My Cat Ears

If you’re happy, they wiggle. They prick up when you’re excited. And if you’re relaxed, they droop. They are, of course, brainwave-operated cat ears. 

Meet the $100 Necomimi, the first (as far as we can tell) neuro-fashion tech.

The Necomimi is a pair of motorized animal shaped ears and a sensor, on a headband, that pick up electrical signals from the wearer’s brain.  “Necomimi” literally means “mini cat ears.”

Japan’s Neurowear makes the Necomimi using sensory-headset technology from California-based NeuroSky.

The ears read the brain’s state using the same technology that detects seizures and measures brain activity. More than 400 universities use NeuroSky’s hardware to help patients with brain injuries, study sleep patterns, detect Alzheimer’s, and create sensory motor controls for devices like wheelchairs. 

But, said David Westendorf, NeuroSky’s vice president of marketing, the ears could have a big future with sports fans. “We’re trying to establish Necomimi as the platform for (wearable technology fashion) companies to build on.”

The Necomimi requires four AAA batteries and, with a new licensing agreement with Emoki, the headset is now available with cat, wolf, fox and bear ears. Emoki’s co-founder Hannah Masius says this is just the beginning. 

“It opens up a whole new avenue for different accessories,” said Masius. “It’s up to your imagination.”

Masius thinks the ears could have a win a following with electric dance music aficionados. Artists like Deadmau5 already use  masks to enhance their shows. She compares the ears to SpiritHoods, the hooded animal themed sweatshirts with faux fur that first caught on with festivalgoers. 

“It’s like any peacocking device,” Masius said. “Having a brain-wave sensor on your head is an attention-grabber.”  

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