clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Here's your chance to make good on that mind-blowing idea

NASA’s Mindshift biofeedback gaming technology in action.

If you really put your mind to it, what could you invent?

That’s the idea behind a nationwide challenge to see who can create the best use of a brain-powered game-control technology invented by NASA.

Louis Foreman

The space agency is partnering with Edison Nation, an online portal run by Northbrook native Louis Foreman, to solicit the ideas using Mindshift, a technology that NASA developed to train pilots and astronauts to operate flight-deck controls.

The technology senses when the pilot is getting bored and automatically changes the flight simulator’s controls to get his attention. If the user’s physiological signals show he or she is not performing optimally, Mindshift changes the speed, strength or steadiness of the controller to try to boost the skill challenge, for example.

Any inventor who impresses NASA gets to share in any future licensing royalties if their idea succeeds in the marketplace. There is no ceiling on the number of successful ideas.

Would-be inventors pay a $25 submission fee to cover part of the cost of the review. They may submit any combination of technologies that involve products and services until the deadline at 1:59 a.m. Central on Aug. 4.

“Mindshift has all sorts of applications for video-gaming and consumer products,” said Foreman, CEO of Edison Nation and the creator and executive producer of PBS-TV show “Everyday Edisons.”

The technology, developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., uses wireless sensors placed on a video game player’s earlobe or forehead to monitor the person’s pulse, muscle strain and other signs of tension. It changes the game’s response based on the stress level, and the player can use that feedback to try to control his reaction.

Foreman, who earned his economics degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., is one of three directors of the James Dyson Foundation in Chicago, the charitable grant-making project of Dyson vacuum-cleaner creator James Dyson.

Foreman also is a successful entrepreneur in his own right, having started and sold a university sportswear business in Champaign in the 1990s and a NASCAR apparel company in Charlotte.

Foreman touts the NASA “Open Innovation” concept — a trend that, unlike crowdsourcing, protects inventors’ ideas with patents and intellectual property rights and rewards them with a share of the profits. Edison Nation has partnerships with companies such as Procter & Gamble, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Home Shopping Network that have resulted in $200 million in retail sales from products generated by online ideas in the past five years.

“Rather than have people wait six or seven hours in line for the opportunity to present their ideas (as they do on the TV show), they can do it 24/7 at,” he said.

“Chicago is an entrepreneurial city,” said Foreman, who returns here at least 10 times a year. “It has great success stories, whether it’s in food, media, industrial or consumer products. … We believe there is a great pool of ideas in Chicago.”