Block notifications with your brain when you're busy!

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By Nayab Ahmad
@Quantumrun
Sep 12, 2015,  8:12 PM

Image via PassionSquared.

We’re currently living in a time where our attention is continually being fought for.

On average, a person checks his or her phone every six minutes, which isn’t surprising considering the constant flow of information we’re exposed to. Researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts have eliminated the danger of being distracted with the creation of a new software system named Phylter. Phylter uses physiological sensing to measure cognitive states, specifically, whether or not the mind is hard at work. Based on this information, Phylter can quiet distracting notifications from nearby devices.

Phylter employs functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a lightweight brain-monitoring technology, to measure brain activity. By gathering brain activity, Phylter can determine the best moments to deliver notifications to the user.

FNIRS measures the blood flow in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which indicates whether the mind is meaningfully engaged or simply staring into space. Collected data is then adjusted to the user's brain through algorithm.

Collected data is then adjusted to the user's brain through algorithm.

In a study conducted by researchers from Tufts University, Phylter was connected to Google Glass which is a form of wearable technology used to deliver information to users. Subjects were hooked to the Phylter-Google Glass device while playing a video game. Then, the subjects were exposed to numerous notifications while playing, which they had the option to accept or ignore.

Based on their response to the notifications, the Phylter system was able to learn which notifications are important enough to pass on an alert even when the subject was busy and which notifications could be ignored until later. Phylter, therefore, shows promise as an effective notification filter based on individual preferences.

Impact (ONLY use the 'Paste From Word' button to safely copy and paste text from a Word doc) 

We’re currently living in a time where our attention is continuously being fought for. Phylter can help to limit the number of less significant notifications and help the user focus on the task at hand. This filter offers an effective solution to our world's persistent problem of information overload.

Not only can Phylter help people become more efficient at multitasking in the future, but Phylter can also improve time management. Phylter’s framework for physiologically-driven user interactions may even expand to include other types of devices like cars and televisions.

Public Release Date: 
2017
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