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Mental Garden, transforms brainwaves as a creative material thanks to a unique handset design

Case Study

Problem - The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, a place dedicated to science discovery, strives to familiarize visitors with brain-computer interfaces through a distinctive experiential approach. However, BCIs remain primarily confined to laboratory settings, presenting challenges in enabling widespread access to those unfamiliar with such technologies.

Solution - Mentalista crafted a unique autonomous installation focused on the creative utilization of brainwaves as a medium for creation. Dubbed the Mental Garden, the installation seamlessly captures the user's brain waves and transforms them into a vibrant digital flower, blossoming in real-time on a screen.

Result - Evidence of a successful experiment, over 15,000 visitors have attempted to generate a mental flower using Mental Garden, paving the way for autonomous use of brain-computer interfaces.

Problem - Introducing brain-computer interfaces to the public in complete autonomy without human mediation within the constraints of a publicly accessible venue

Facilitating public access to cutting-edge technologies is a fundamental goal for an iconic science venue like the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie. However, transitioning complex laboratory technologies into the outside world requires a prior process of popularization so that mediation with the public enables them to discover these advancements without being discouraged by their complexity.

For brain-computer interfaces, the user needs to wear a headset equipped with electrodes, whose placement is crucial to ensure an effective signal reading. Although this type of interface is typically reserved for a specialized audience, making brainwave monitoring accessible to the general public seems too costly to be feasible.

Finally, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie welcomes nearly 3 million visitors of all ages each year. The continuous flow of visitors requires mediation tailored to each type of visitor. In the absence of human mediation, brain-computer interfaces must be designed in an intuitive manner, with simple cues, to allow for autonomous use.

Solution - An intuitive handset design to discover science advancement in brain monitoring

To bridge the gap between advanced brain-computer interfaces and the general public, Mentalista devised a unique and autonomous installation known as Mental Garden. This innovative exhibit transforms brainwaves into a medium for creative expression, allowing users to see their brain activity manifested as vibrant digital flowers in real-time on a screen. The process is simple and user-friendly: visitors wear a specially designed headset that captures their brainwaves and translates these signals into a visual representation.

One of the key goals was to create a fully autonomous demonstrator that could meet the specific needs of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Mental Garden was designed to transition from traditional human mediation to digital, self-guided interaction. This shift to digital mediation allows visitors to explore complex brainwaves sensing technology independently, without the need for direct assistance from staff.

Furthermore, the use of brainwaves as a creative medium offers a unique solution to the museum’s challenge of providing personalized experiences. By leveraging individual brain activity, the installation adapts uniquely to each user, ensuring that every visitor has a distinct and memorable experience. This personalization demonstrates the potential of BCIs to offer tailored interactions that are both educational and engaging.

This initiative was part of a winning proposal in the "Body and Interfaces" call for innovative projects by Universcience, which aims to integrate scientific advancements into public exhibits. Over six months, Mentalista collaborated with the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie to develop this installation, focusing on creating an engaging and educational experience that does not require human mediation. The Mental Garden offers a dual experience: it is both playful and informative, demonstrating that brainwaves are unique to each individual and enabling every visitor to create a personalized digital flower to take away as a souvenir.

Result - A blossoming success with over 15,000 unique digital flowers created

Since its inception, Mental Garden has been a resounding success, with more than 15,000 visitors having created their own digital flowers in the 6 months exhibition (+100 experiences by day). This high level of engagement highlights the effectiveness of the installation in making complex brain-computer technology accessible and enjoyable to a broad audience.

Mental Garden has achieved several key objectives: it is easy for all visitors to use, effectively communicates information about brain function, and provides a unique, personal takeaway. The installation's appeal is further enhanced by the fact that each user's experience is distinct, often shared with friends and family, fostering discussions and comparisons of the digital flowers. Some visitors are even motivated to repeat the experience multiple times to observe variations in their brainwave-generated flowers.

Beyond the individual experience, the Mental Garden sparks curiosity and questions about both the nature of brainwaves and the potential applications of brain-computer interfaces. It successfully combines technology discovery with personal and visual engagement, prompting reflections on the current and future implications of these advancements.

Featured products

Rosette (M03), Mental SDK, Mental Cloud

Project Development Time

6 months

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