There has been a dramatic rise in the number of technology patents filed that relate to reading brainwaves.
Research company Nielsen holds the most neuro-technology patents – with 100.
Microsoft holds 89 patents for software that can assess mental states.
The expansion into non-medical uses represented a dawn of the “pervasive neuro-technology age”, said SharpBrains chief executive Alvaro Fernandez.
“Neuro-tech has gone well beyond medicine, with non-medical corporations, often under the radar, developing neuro-technologies to enhance work and life,” he added.
There has been a rise in the number of companies such as Thync, a start-up working to connect to the brain sensors that can alter mood in the same way as a coffee or energy drink.
And there are moves afoot to come up with ways of controlling video games via brainwaves – such as a collaboration between EEG headset-maker Emotiv and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
There are also plenty of so-called neuro-marketing companies using with Electroencephalography (EEG) – a way of recording the electrical activity of the brain by placing sensors on the scalp – to try to find out what someone thinks about a new product or advert.
Matt Wall, of the Centre for Imaging Science, at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “There probably are some decent companies doing work in that space, but there are a massive number of neuro-marketing companies that have sprung up in the last few years.
“Because of the wide availability and low-cost of the EEG hardware these days, they all seek to define their [unique selling point] and intellectual property (ie patents) based on their fancy analysis techniques and claim to measure things like ‘engagement’ or ‘interest’ from EEG signals.
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