Two people relate to each other through Mental Block headsets


Mental Block is a wearable system for the exploration of brain-wave synchronicity between two individuals in real time.

The system consists of two specialized headsets. At the heart of each headset is an EEG / brain wave sensor which makes contact with the wearer’s forehead. Brainwaves are constantly measured and mapped to the rotation angle of a clear polarized disk suspended in front of the wearer’s face.

When both wearers are exhibiting similar brain wave values, their polarized disks rotate to the same angles, allowing light to pass through both disks — revealing the face of each wearer to the other.

When the wearers’ brain waves drift out of sync, the polarized disks rotate to opposing angles, progressively blocking light transmission to the point of complete black-out — effectively preventing the participants from seeing one-another’s face.

Effectively, the more similar the wearers’ brain waves are, the more clearly they can see one another. Advanced (or particularly patient) subjects can conspire to align their mental affect toward either focus or relaxation to maintain a clear line of sight between them.

Two headsets were prototyped, but the system is designed to scale to any number of users, allowing the potential to grow the number of mediated connections quadratically.


An early sketch of the Mental Block hardware conceptArturo Vidich wearing the Mental Block deviceA pair of Mental Block headsetsMental Block EEG electronics packageA smiling person wearing a Mental Block headsetClay Shirky tries out the Mental Block headset




A pair of identical headsets each consisting of:

  • Modified face shield
  • Modified Star Wars Force Trainer toy
  • Microcontroller
  • Custom software
  • Servo motor
  • Linear-polarizing film



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