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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Wearable accessories keep your brain safe from scanning

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Lisa Kori Chung)

A series of conceptual accessories are designed to protect your thoughts from scanning.

It's official: your tinfoil hat is now old hat. A series of accessories are designed to protect your precious thoughts in style.

The Anti-NIS accessories, created by Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris for Benetton's research studio Fabrica, are all about maintaining the privacy of your own thoughts.

(Credit: Lisa Kori Chung)

The three pieces were designed with something called Neuro-Imaging Surveillance (NIS) in mind. Surveillance neuroimaging is actually used in medical neurology, whereby doctors will monitor a patient's neural activity in order to provide better care — but the word "surveillance" can be a bit of a touchy one.

"The paradigm of clothing as protector and concealer is slowly shifting: increasingly, our bodies are becoming more and more public (through security practices as well as fashion choices), while new forms of neuro-imaging technology are developing that may one day allow for surveillance and interception of the contents of our minds," Chung said. "Anti-NIS Accessories is a series of proposed objects designed as a form of clothing that maintains privacy of thought and action."

Each piece — a collar, a fascinator and a mask — can detect when a scan is occurring. Rather than block the scan (the pieces are constructed mostly of felt and wood), they offer an intervention that will instead distract the wearer, changing the neural activity and thus preventing the scan from accessing normal brain activity.

The collar provides a gentle electric shock, the fascinator distracts with sound via bone conduction, and the mask will show a display of flashing lights.

We don't think widespread public brain scans are something that will be occurring any time soon, since it usually requires an MRI machine. We'd like to think this piece is more of a comment on the growing privacy paranoia. While, undoubtedly, there are some cases in which the public ought to be concerned about their data, there are other areas where the technology is simply not feasible.

Anti-NIS Accessories made their debut at the Wearable Futures exhibition in London.

(Credit: Lisa Kori Chung)


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