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Plush mind-reading cat ears, now available in the U.S.

July 13, 2012|By Deborah Netburn

Anyone who has ever longed for more expressive ears, your moment has arrived: This week the Japanese company Neurowear has made Necomimi -- its plush, mind-reading cat ears -- available in the U.S.

Using electroencephalography (EEG), the same technology doctors use to detect seizures and measure brain activity, the company has created a pair of plush catlike ears that are supposed to respond to the wearer's mood -- drooping when you are lost in thought, perking up when you are concentrating.

The ears, launched at Comic-Con (of course) will retail in the U.S. for $99.

Necomimi were created by a Japanese creative design firm that was exploring how people will communicate in the future.

The firm created a prototype of the ears and posted a video of how they might work in real life on YouTube in March 2011. The video quickly went viral and has been watched more than 2 million times. 

"We've been working on putting a real product together ever since," said Tansy Brook, a representative of Neurosky, the company that provided the mind-reading technology.

The ears require four AAA batteries and have two little motors that help them perk up or droop, depending on the type of brainwaves a person is sending out. A small sensor that rests on the user's forehead picks up on the electrical activity at the scalp, and tells the ears what to do accordingly.

If the wearer is relaxed, the ears droop; if the wearer is focused, they should stand straight up; and if the wearer is both relaxed and focused -- what Brook and her colleagues call being "in the zone" -- the ears wiggle.

Brook said the Necomimi is fairly comfortable, and not that different from wearing a headband.

For now, they can be purchased at the Necomimi website. In the immediate future you can look for the ears at anime conferences, and Brook said the company is also in talks with bricks-and-mortar stores. 

She expects the ears to be at Halloween specialty shops by October, and hopefully in toy stores by the winter holidays.

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