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Can SyncThink Read Your Mind?

Boston-based Sync­Think has received their tenth patent in the US, if it holds up to legal chal­lenges from oth­er VR com­pa­nies explor­ing sim­i­lar advances. The patent is relat­ed to track­ing eye move­ments in vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­sets, an appli­ca­tion which they’ve already put to good med­ical use and which has the poten­tial to open up many new pos­si­bil­i­ties in VR tech­nol­o­gy.

Ear­li­er this year Sync­Think, found­ed by Dr. Jamshid Gha­jar, MD, PhD, FACS, and Pres­i­dent of the Brain Trau­ma Foun­da­tion, gained FDA approval for their EYE-SYNC device. EYE-SYNC is a neu­ro-tech­nol­o­gy device which tracks eye move­ments is order to deter­mine if a sports play­er has devel­oped a con­cus­sion dur­ing or after a game.

The device tracks the eyes for abnor­mal move­ment, which is a hall­mark of con­cus­sions, and accord­ing to the com­pa­ny can return a diag­no­sis in six­ty sec­onds, and is accu­rate and reli­able. Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s Sports Med­i­cine pro­gram is already using EYE-SYNC to screen ath­letes dur­ing games and deter­mine whether they can return to play, and they believe it could become the diag­nos­tic gold stan­dard for sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions with every team and orga­ni­za­tion from high school through the pro­fes­sion­al level.

While sports and mil­i­tary injuries are the pri­ma­ry focus right now, the impli­ca­tions of the eye track­ing soft­ware could extend much fur­ther into oth­er areas. It basi­cal­ly reg­is­ters a user’s lev­el of atten­tion and can deter­mine if fatigue or dis­trac­tion is affect­ing them in addi­tion to pos­si­ble brain trau­ma such as from a con­cus­sion. This could allow com­pa­nies to have their con­tent inter­act with peo­ple based on their cur­rent lev­el of atten­tion. In essence, it would let them read your mind to see how recep­tive you are at any giv­en moment to what they wish to present to you.

There are lots of com­pa­nies work­ing on VR tech­nolo­gies right now, and that includes oth­ers inves­ti­gat­ing eye-track­ing soft­ware for VR appli­ca­tions, such as Face­book (Ocu­lus) and Eye­flu­ence. Whether Sync­Think’s patent will hold up once these oth­er com­pa­nies chal­lenge it (and they will) remains to be seen.a

The com­pa­ny has part­nered with the Brain Trau­ma Foun­da­tion and stud­ied over 10,000 indi­vid­u­als under clin­i­cal con­di­tions to cre­ate an ocu­lar-motor nor­ma­tive data­base, against which the EYE-SYNC device can com­pare its results when ana­lyz­ing some­one’s con­di­tion. The part­ner­ship has also released more than 20 peer-reviewed research arti­cles which explore and describe the impact if con­cus­sion on visu­al attention.

Can the tech­nol­o­gy actu­al­ly read your mind? That’s a loaded ques­tion. It can’t guess your favorite col­or or what num­ber between 1 and 100 you’re think­ing about. But it can read cog­ni­tive func­tion through eye move­ment, so if you real­ly want­ed to get tech­ni­cal the answer would be yes. More often than not we tend to asso­ciate vir­tu­al real­i­ty with games, trav­el, and edu­ca­tion pri­mar­i­ly, but Sync­Think gives VR enthu­si­asts a new par­a­digm for the pos­si­bil­i­ties inher­ent in the tech­nol­o­gy — specif­i­cal­ly, med­ical pos­si­bil­i­ties. So if you want to get in the VR game but aren’t too excit­ed about gam­ing, Sync­Think could be a great place to send your resume.

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