Ariel Garten, CEO InteraXon, interview @ Banff World Media Festival 2011

Ariel Garten - CEO of InteraXon

I had a very enjoyable time attending Ariel Garten’s (CEO of InteraXon creator of the Muse headbandNextMedia Keynote address: Thought Controlled Computing @ Banff World Media Festival 2011. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ariel. Here is the interview video.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Ariel.

* 0:00 In your presentation, some ideas are very cutting-edge and quite “out-there”. When you meet corporate clients, how do you engage them and bring them down to earth?

* 1:03 Talking about the chewing gum example (the “chew off”) discussed in your presentation, can you tell us more and which brand it was? What does InteraXon actually measure? [Kempton’s note: The chewing gum campaign went live on June 16th. At press time, I haven’t heard any updates from InteraXon.]

* 2:20 So does the software system work by basing on its previous training of brainwave signals?

* 2:48 How accurate is the software? Lets take heart rate as an example because it is easy to know what is right.

* 3:16 You mentioned the system has limitations, can you elaborate on the kind of limitations please? [Kempton: Here are some reading about Alpha (relax “awake but relaxed”) and Beta (focus “alert and attentive”) brain waves. And via Wikipedia, Alpha and Beta.]

* 3:48 Ariel talks about the reliability in using Alpha and Beta brain waves, especially for new users.

* 4:05 What other signals can your system use?

* 4:25 Am I using the right analogy to compare the “training” your system undergoes to the “training” speech recognition system needed in the past?

* 4:52 Someone asked Ariel about the possibility of using brainwaves for security authentication purposes. How unique are brainwaves? Can it be done now? If not now, how may it work in the future?

* 6:17 Ariel mentioned University of Toronto professor Steve Mann in her presentation, I asked Ariel to talk more about how Steve work with InteraXon (see Steve’s bio on the company site).

* 7:35 How big is InteraXon? Are you guys more a research focused company?

* 8:26 So you guys are actually cash flow positive already? How old is the company? Are you one of the founders of the company?

* 8:52 What do you see the company doing in the next few years? Based on the chewing gum project, are you talking to ad companies, companies like Saatchi & Saatchi or Publicis or whatever? Business-wise, what are you guys thinking? What price range will your product be coming out at?

Concluding Thoughts

I had a great time chatting and interviewing Ariel and I found her very knowledgeable and informative. At the same time, in hindsight, I do think the keynote presentation itself contains many (may be too many) futuristic scenarios presented in a way that gives an impression of them being achievable much sooner than the technologies may be capable of delivering. If it were to me, I would have done the same blue skying and talking about the possibilities of the technologies but at the same time I would be more cautious and try to under promise now (and over deliver later).

Anyway, I am very excited about InteraXon‘s technologies. And I will be emailing my friend Sarb, a super smart software architect who happens to have a Phd in Neural Network, to tell him to check out my insightful chat with Ariel and InteraXon‘s technologies.

For all other Banff 2011 related interviews, please see here.

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