A Chinese elementary school has caused controversy after children in the class had worn so-called & # 39; mind-reading & # 39; headbands to make them pay attention.
The £ 380 devices, powered by AI algorithms, detect the wearer's brain signals using high-tech sensors and translate them into real-time data that their teachers can see.
A detailed report is later generated to the parents and teachers of the students via an app and it classifies the class according to their concentration levels.
Pupils in the Xiaoshun Central Primary School in eastern China wear the controversial headbands in the classroom. The school has been accused of using the high-tech product to follow children
The handout photo from BrainCo lets kids try out the company's Focus 1 headbands in its & # 39; experience center & # 39; in China. The center is open to the public in Shanghai this month
Teachers can follow the attention of the students via a computer, which receives information from the headbands.
HOW THE HEADBAND WORKS
The headbands use electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to detect brain activity when the wearer is busy with a task.
Usually the high-frequency beta waves of the brain are increased when we are focused, and the low-frequency alpha and theta waves are more excited when we are relaxed.
The patterns vary from person to person, so Focus determines the maximum level of attention for each user through a series of mental tasks.
A high numerical score for the EEG signal suggests that a student is paying attention; a low score is interpreted as a distracted or unfocused student.
Lights on the front of the devices also show different colors for different concentration levels, highlighting to staff when students are not paying attention.
The technology has raised privacy issues. Many have also accused the school of supervising its students.
Although the gadget developer emphasizes that its product has no other purpose than to help students study, the local education agency reportedly ordered the school to stop using the controversial hat in the midst of the protest.
The Focus 1 headbands have been developed by BrainCo, a Massachusetts startup.
The company was founded by the Chinese engineer Han Bicheng, who obtained his PhD at the Center of Brain Science at Harvard University.
& # 39; With BrainCo & # 39; s brainwave detecting headbands and software platform, teachers can track the student engagement and attention level of the class as they take place, & # 39 ;, the company says.
Han, who works with a team in Boston, donated 50 of the advanced headbands to his alma mater, Xiaoshun Central Primary School, last year.
The school in the city of Jinhua, in eastern China, has been testing the product on their students for almost a year.
Mr Han said New scientist the test had led to better grades among the participants, who also had to spend less time on homework.
The Focus 1 headbands have been developed by BrainCo, a Massachusetts startup. The company's Chinese founder, Han Bicheng (center, rear row), donated 50 of the advanced headbands to his alma mater, Xiaoshun Central Primary School in Jinhua, last year.
Han (photo) told New Scientist last year that the trial at Xiaoshun school had led to better grades for participants, who also had to spend less time on homework
The company has signed a deal to deliver 20,000 headbands to a Chinese distributor.
This month it opened an & # 39; experience center & # 39; in Shanghai to promote its technology. One of the brand's Chinese slogans is & # 39; every family with a child needs a Focus 1 headband & # 39 ;.
The start-up also has plans to collaborate with schools in the United States, Mexico, Spain and Brazil.
A recent one report from The Wall Street Journal shows a teacher at Xiaoshun school looking at a computer screen with numbers broadcast in real time by students' headbands.
Mr. Han (pictured in 2016) obtained his PhD at the Center of Brain Science at Harvard University
Han (center) shows his products last Friday at the Chinese official Wang Yang in Hangzhou
& # 39; During this period, this student was a little distracted & # 39 ;, the teacher, named Zhu Jiangli, told the reporter pointing to the data.
A father also shows the reporter how he goes to the & # 39; concentration scores & # 39; of his child.
However, scientists have questioned the effectiveness of the devices.
Theodore Zanto, a neuroscientist at the University of California at San Francisco, told the publication: & # 39; This is a new technology with very little research done. & # 39;
Headband news has generated a lot of criticism of Chinese social media platforms, with many worrying about how the data will be used and who has access to it.
Web users have also accused the school of violating student privacy by monitoring their brains.
& # 39; What is the point of checking whether (students) are concentrating or not? It's about making the class interesting and engaging & # 39 ;, a person on Twitter-like Weibo criticized.
Last May, the Hangzhou No. 11 High School in Zhejiang Province in East China installed facial recognition cameras in the classrooms to ensure that students pay attention during class
Another user urged schools to focus on improving the quality of education. The user said: & # 39; Children must be carefree. Their character cannot be changed by a technology that limits humanity. & # 39;
A third observer said that the headbands should be removed from the campus away from children & # 39 ;.
The product developer today denied the allegations that the headbands were designed for surveillance purposes.
A statement states that the technology was developed solely to train the attention span of children.
It also claimed that teachers could only see the average level of concentration of the class, not the data of each student. It said the method could help teachers adjust their teaching strategy accordingly.
Pupils at 11 schools (one of them pictured) in China have & # 39; smart uniforms & # 39; equipped with tracking chips and face recognition software that can track the whereabouts of the wearers
The company added that students would be asked to wear headbands once a week and that their data would not be shared with their parents.
Reportedly, the local education office ordered the school in Jinhua to stop using the headbands of its students.
A spokesperson for the Jindong District Education Bureau said BJ News that it had started an investigation into the incident.
It also required that all schools in the & # 39; self-examination & # 39; to carry out.
This is not the first time that schools in China use AI-powered equipment to track students.
Last May a high school in Hangzhou installed high-tech surveillance cameras in front of classrooms to monitor students' attention by analyzing their facial expressions.
Guizhou and Guangxi schools also started with & # 39; smart uniforms & # 39; equipped with tracking chips to record the whereabouts of the students.
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