February 4, 2014

The saʊnd of the Future

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By Kimberly Schonhorst

Revolutionizing the technology industry, Kelsey Kruse, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, has developed headphones that can be controlled by your mind. Kruse and her team are working on a startup called “saʊnd” that offers completely wireless, comfortable headphones that can be controlled by your thoughts. After a runner undergoes training so the headphones “learn” to work with the runner’s brain, simply thinking can trigger the play, pause, and volume controls.

As a runner, Kruse became frustrated by the hassle caused by performance-based headphones currently on the market: Ear buds fall out, wires get in the way, and it’s really awkward to grab your phone out of your pocket and press buttons while running,” Kruse describes. “Four out of five people wear headphones while running,” so in an attempt to ease the struggle of runners and other athletes, Kruse started saʊnd. This startup focuses on encouraging runners to be more in tune with their bodies and eliminating the clunky, distracting hardware. Saʊnd took on quite the challenge, but currently has a working prototype that uses motor-imagery brain computer interfaces to control the headphones. Kruse’s fascination with neuroscience launched her interest in developing this new technology: “I’ve been a neuroscience-guru for as long as I can remember. I feel like the brain is still such a mystery, one of the last frontiers of science. Our project, Saʊnd, surely isn’t an easy one. But I think the challenge is what really gets my team excited.” The team’s current and upcoming research aims to optimize the electrode placements and the EEG signal analysis techniques in order to bring the product to market.

Saʊnd targets “tech-savvy runners and people who regularly exercise and love the cutting edge,” Kruse explains. While this breakthrough in technology is of great importance to Kruse’s saʊnd, one can only imagine its relevance to other scientific communities and audiences.

Anyone interested in hearing more about this intriguing project can email Kelsey Kruse at [email protected].