Audience Participation: Unique Applications of ORMS

I wouldn’t call myself a sucker for new technology devices, but I’ve paid my share of the early adopter tax over the years. One of the most frustrating and interesting devices I’ve followed are brain-computer headsets, an extreme example of wearable technology. Somehow I’ve purchased a non-zero, non-singular number of these over the years. These devices attempt to read which brainwaves are being used via EEG technology, and some also detect facial motions such as winces, smiles, winks, etc. A simple primer can be found here. While the neuroscience behind such devices is fascinating, at the present time they still have some way to go in comfort and application, as evidenced by this headset design:

So what does this have to do with INFORMS? Well, I would have thought nothing, at first. I teach about the devices in my Managing Technology course as an example of showing how difficult it is to tell where a certain technology is on the S-curve. And yet, I’m an officer in the TIMES group, and I know there’s plenty of overlap between technology and INFORMS. It’s interesting, how we each mentally categorize certain interests in the INFORMS basket, and others not so much.

But the devices produce noisy data via the electrodes contacting the head, and it creates a signal processing challenge. I attended a session where Kyla McMullen and her students worked with a disabled drummer in helping him once more play the drums. They normalized the headset data in order to do so. It was exciting, seeing how the analysis may help an artist create once more. I was pleasantly surprised to see an INFORMS session on this interesting new technology.

This INFORMS, I’m focusing my blogging more on open participation-style posts. So tell me, what’s a topic you’d like to see just one INFORMS session on? We often think about hot new topics, but what about not-so-hot (or not yet hot) new topics, that still should receive some coverage? Something out of the mainstream, perhaps, or not typical INFORMS material, but that you would be pleasantly surprised to see. Feel free to comment below.