TORONTO WEARABLES MEETUP 05: DR. SEAN MONTGOMERY
Friday August 19th, 2016

Wearable Technology Meet Up 5 at Site 3 on Ossington boasted guest lecturer, Dr. Sean Montgomery a neuroscientist from the States whose hobbies include biofeedback fashion and technology. His interest comes from a desire for greater personal awareness, self-expression, and human biological interaction. He describes our species as having very limited forms of communication focused on the senses of smell and touch, plus facial expression, and verbal language. “Technology is an opportunity to enhance communication and create new ways to communicate”, explains Sean, “Current technology just repeats our old ways of communication”. With bodies constantly sending out communication signals to organs he though it would be "neat" to tap into these communication signals and to create new interpersonal signals that tap into the body.

His first biofeedback apparel was a shirt and accompanying wristband, which pick up the wearer’s heartbeat. The shirt lights with the heartbeat and depending on the frequency of the beats, reveals the wearer’s emotional state. Our heart rate is constantly changing while we walk, talk, when we are startled, and it is silently metering away our lives while we are actively ignoring it. From this perspective the apparel offers a way to remind the wearer and audience that we are organic beings. As Sean describes, “Your heart started when you started- and stops when you stop.” The “heartbeat” shirt is a constant reminder of what’s going on inside you on a physical biological level. A rate monitor in the wristband that is small and compact amplifies the heartbeat. Sean has conceptualized other possibilities for wearable besides wristband and shirt – potential belt buckle or miniaturize using pulseox symmetry for an earring, and other accessories to create a more intimate connection with our heartbeats

According to Sean he is completely enamored with the heart, ironic considering he has spent his life studying the brain, but he sees the heart as an amazing metaphor and states it’s no accident it has a special place in mythology.

Sean’s next major project was a truth wristband that measures galvanic skin response which is sensitive to arousal and excitement – similar to lie detector. To demonstrate Sean slaps himself in front of the audience and the band almost instantly lights up red! It’s primarily responsive to individuals and will reveal how differently people respond to their surrounding environment including sounds and movements.

Through testing the Truth Band Sean has discovered that interestingly often it is the question posed to the wearer, not the wearer’s answer that creates a physical response.  For example when asking the wearer, “How do you feel about your mother?” Sean always gets a strong response because everyone has strong emotional ties to their mothers. Very personal questions also tend to get a strong response, but the best part for Sean is that the wristband always and draws out interesting conversation. On Sean’s website produceconsumerobot.com there is a video of him testing his brothers physical responsiveness when wearing the wristband and questioned.

The Truth Band works by measuring the resistance between two plates. As Sean describes we all have a sweat gland in our hand that is in tune with arousal systems, like adrenaline, and pulses of sweat, which makes skin more conductive. The perfect example is sweaty palms at a job interview. Skin resistance goes up through basic evaporation over time, but sometimes events can create spikes depending on the question. What the Truth Band circuits do is filter out the slow up activity (the band has a filter) and turn the emotional response into a spike that is displayed on LED. It’s a fun visual experience, and anyone can buy the kit on makershed.com with all coding available as open-source. In the near future Sean hopes to create the 21st century mood ring - that actually works!

The last project that Sean brought was the most impressive, called the Thinking Cap. It measures brainwaves using an EEG sensor on the bottom of the skull with electrodes underneath separating brainwaves into different frequencies. According to Sean, there are 100billion neurons in the brain and one of the things neuroscience has discovered is synchrony between them, meaning 2 neurons firing together can communicate better than 1, and can create changes in each other firing patters to stay in sync. This synchrony creates enhanced plasticity of the brain. He describes the brain as having communication protocols through oscillations; the numbers of different oscillations each mean a different part of the brain is activated and communicating. When you are asleep it is the delta oscillation which happens in less than a split second. Other oscillations of the brain include alpha (relax), beta (concentration), gamma (flexible)…. I’m not completely confident in my explanation of this complex system… but basically how it can work is when Sean relaxes the back part of the brain hat can turn completely blue- which means that the alpha has been set off. When it glows red it reflects gamma oscillations.

The input is an open EEG amplifier + circuit which amplifies the brain signal 10- 10000 times. According to Sean it needs to multiply significantly to be picked it up by a 12 -bit pack. The output is microcontrollers and signal processing circuit. In the future Sean would like to see some mind control artwork, and probably new advertising concepts.

Currently, Sean is collaborating with group of students at OCAD and instructor Paula Gardner, taking brain waves and turning the output into generative 3d sculpture art, which explores the idea brain waves and neuro-realism movement. There is a belief that the brain is a true reflection of reality, the concept being that things in the brain must be “real” and we should believe what is in the brain.  Sean’s interest is sharing the inside on the outside is breaking boundaries, and creating truly expressive, and personal fashionable apparel.



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Wearable Technology Meet Up 5 at Site 3 on Ossington boasted guest lecturer, Dr. Sean Montgomery a neuroscientist from the States whose hobbies include biofeedback fashion and technology. His interest comes from a desire for greater personal awareness, self-expression, and human biological interaction. He describes our species as having very limited forms of communication focused on the senses of smell and touch, plus facial expression, and verbal language. “Technology is an opportunity to enhance communication and create new ways to communicate”, explains Sean, “Current technology just repeats our old ways of communication”. With bodies constantly sending out communication signals to organs he though it would be "neat" to tap into these communication signals and to create new interpersonal signals that tap into the body.

His first biofeedback apparel was a shirt and accompanying wristband, which pick up the wearer’s heartbeat. The shirt lights with the heartbeat and depending on the frequency of the beats, reveals the wearer’s emotional state. Our heart rate is constantly changing while we walk, talk, when we are startled, and it is silently metering away our lives while we are actively ignoring it. From this perspective the apparel offers a way to remind the wearer and audience that we are organic beings. As Sean describes, “Your heart started when you started- and stops when you stop.” The “heartbeat” shirt is a constant reminder of what’s going on inside you on a physical biological level. A rate monitor in the wristband that is small and compact amplifies the heartbeat. Sean has conceptualized other possibilities for wearable besides wristband and shirt – potential belt buckle or miniaturize using pulseox symmetry for an earring, and other accessories to create a more intimate connection with our heartbeats

According to Sean he is completely enamored with the heart, ironic considering he has spent his life studying the brain, but he sees the heart as an amazing metaphor and states it’s no accident it has a special place in mythology.

Sean’s next major project was a truth wristband that measures galvanic skin response which is sensitive to arousal and excitement – similar to lie detector. To demonstrate Sean slaps himself in front of the audience and the band almost instantly lights up red! It’s primarily responsive to individuals and will reveal how differently people respond to their surrounding environment including sounds and movements.

Through testing the Truth Band Sean has discovered that interestingly often it is the question posed to the wearer, not the wearer’s answer that creates a physical response.  For example when asking the wearer, “How do you feel about your mother?” Sean always gets a strong response because everyone has strong emotional ties to their mothers. Very personal questions also tend to get a strong response, but the best part for Sean is that the wristband always and draws out interesting conversation. On Sean’s website produceconsumerobot.com there is a video of him testing his brothers physical responsiveness when wearing the wristband and questioned.

The Truth Band works by measuring the resistance between two plates. As Sean describes we all have a sweat gland in our hand that is in tune with arousal systems, like adrenaline, and pulses of sweat, which makes skin more conductive. The perfect example is sweaty palms at a job interview. Skin resistance goes up through basic evaporation over time, but sometimes events can create spikes depending on the question. What the Truth Band circuits do is filter out the slow up activity (the band has a filter) and turn the emotional response into a spike that is displayed on LED. It’s a fun visual experience, and anyone can buy the kit on makershed.com with all coding available as open-source. In the near future Sean hopes to create the 21st century mood ring - that actually works!

The last project that Sean brought was the most impressive, called the Thinking Cap. It measures brainwaves using an EEG sensor on the bottom of the skull with electrodes underneath separating brainwaves into different frequencies. According to Sean, there are 100billion neurons in the brain and one of the things neuroscience has discovered is synchrony between them, meaning 2 neurons firing together can communicate better than 1, and can create changes in each other firing patters to stay in sync. This synchrony creates enhanced plasticity of the brain. He describes the brain as having communication protocols through oscillations; the numbers of different oscillations each mean a different part of the brain is activated and communicating. When you are asleep it is the delta oscillation which happens in less than a split second. Other oscillations of the brain include alpha (relax), beta (concentration), gamma (flexible)…. I’m not completely confident in my explanation of this complex system… but basically how it can work is when Sean relaxes the back part of the brain hat can turn completely blue- which means that the alpha has been set off. When it glows red it reflects gamma oscillations.

The input is an open EEG amplifier + circuit which amplifies the brain signal 10- 10000 times. According to Sean it needs to multiply significantly to be picked it up by a 12 -bit pack. The output is microcontrollers and signal processing circuit. In the future Sean would like to see some mind control artwork, and probably new advertising concepts.

Currently, Sean is collaborating with group of students at OCAD and instructor Paula Gardner, taking brain waves and turning the output into generative 3d sculpture art, which explores the idea brain waves and neuro-realism movement. There is a belief that the brain is a true reflection of reality, the concept being that things in the brain must be “real” and we should believe what is in the brain.  Sean’s interest is sharing the inside on the outside is breaking boundaries, and creating truly expressive, and personal fashionable apparel.