In China, an experimental study that had primary school students sporting a device on their heads that analyzes attention levels, has been suspended due to the apprehension of parents regarding the notion of the device’s influence over the children.
The technology assesses brainwaves and transfers the information to a computer at Xiaoshun Central Primary School in the province of Zhejiang. According to Beijing news, only portions of the data was disclosed to the students’ parents.
A teacher involved in the tests, Zhang, says that the trial had been running for one year already, and the readings had been shared to a company server. Apparently none of the children had suffered any adverse reactions from the device.
“All we are doing is providing some assistance for the students to see how much they are paying attention,” says Zhang. “Because the data is transferred to the teacher, the students will concentrate more than usual, and we’ve indeed seen some improvements.”
The brainwave monitoring hardware is shaped like a U and is placed around the students’ foreheads. It was supposedly created by BrainCo, a company based in the United States, along with the Chinese company Zhejiang BrainCo Technology Co Ltd, which was co-founded by Kong Xiaoxian, a former student of the school.
Why are parents concerned?
As technology continues to evolve, many parents are worried that the headbands are yet another breach of personal data, as location details, preferences, and a range of other information is already being evaluated through smartphones and smartwatches.
A law to safeguard the online personal data of minors was established by the Chinese Cyberspace Administration at the beginning of last month. It demands that the data is to be encrypted, parents must give permission before a party can gather, share, or utilize the children’s information, and user agreements must be accepted.
“I’m not sure why the government has barred the use of the bands but it might be partly due to media pressure. Currently this is the only school in China that’s been using them,” says the Director of Zhejiang BrainCo Technology Public Relations, Yang Zhangpeng. “The products are more widely used in the U.S but since Kong was once a student of that school, he decided to donate some of these headbands out of gratitude for his alma mater, with no ill intention. The data collected will only be stored at the school’s database, not even the company’s; nor do we share these data with parents; even teachers can only view the average numbers instead of those of specific individuals.”