First of all, my apologies to all the readers of my blog for the recent bout of inactivity on my blog. I would like to attribute the lack of posts to the following reasons: 1. Been distracted by recent developments in my personal life. 2. Lack of inspiration for new posts – as well as lack of motivation to write about other topics I’ve come across in the last few weeks. I’ll do my best to get back in the rhythm of things from this point on.
My Life and (listening to) Music
I am a music ‘addict’ – I can’t go anywhere without music. In front of my computer, on the bus, on the train, when I’m having lunch out on my own, etc. Listening to music has become an integral part of my life. I remember there was once where I was out of home on my own for the whole day, and I was listening to my iPod music for the entire day, non-stop.
Usually, I would leave all my songs on my 16GB iPod Nano on ‘Shuffle’ mode, and let the iPod automatically select songs at random throughout my entire music library. However, there are some points where I would get irritated by the inappropriateness of the music being played when I am at certain places, or when I am experiencing certain moods that don’t go well with the songs being played. E.g Listening to hard rock or metal songs when I am trying to read in a quiet library, or having to listen to (painfully) slow R&B or jazz music when I am feeling hyped and energized walking around.
Sure, iTunes has this pretty nifty feature known as Genius Mixes, which does a pretty good job at grouping songs of similar genre together, and by selecting the particular mix you wish to listen to, you will only shuffle between songs of that genre. However, with my preferences and mood constantly changing, that means I would have to keep picking up my iPod and adjusting the mix I am listening to. How inconvenient.
An iPod that plays music based on… emotions?
A week ago, I was reading an article on how scientists have created an implant that lets you move things with your mind (those guys are neuroscientists from Brown University! Yay!) Similarly, it got me thinking: Perhaps there is a way where neuroscience becomes so advanced in the future, that we are able to track the neural signals that are linked to our emotions?
If such a means is devised, then it may be possible to build a system that is able to track our feelings based on signals in your brain, and tap other electronic devices to ‘read your mood’ from it. Imagine wearing a watch with a special mode known as ‘Emotions’, where it is able to describe your broad feelings with a word. Subsequently, our iPods can tap onto this ‘mood meter’ and predict the songs that we would want to listen to, and automatically queue them in the playlist! Now wouldn’t that be awesome?
Of course, such an idea is facing many, many complications. Ask any neuroscience researcher, and they would probably give you the wide-eyed look like how astronomers would give you the wide-eyed look if you asked them about black holes 3 decades ago.
First of all, our study of the brain is still rather limited, despite advances made over the recent years. Reading brain signals has always been a tricky issue – and more often than not, a game of ‘hit-and-miss’. A complex brain activity like our emotions would generate many kinds of neural signals, in degrees so complex that they probably escape our current ability to comprehend them (though this does not necessarily mean that they will evade our comprehension forever). Therefore, it falls onto the neuro-scientist to work out a means to effectively predict our emotions based on brain activity. Once that is achieved, we can implant a chip that is able to collect this information and convert it into an electronic signal readable by a computer.
For a headstart into exploring the recent developments of emotions studies, I recommend starting from this Wikipedia article on it.
I am waiting for the day Apple surprises me with something new and funky in their iPods. Haha. They are indeed trendsetters in our world today.