interview02 Shinichiro Kanoh

ELECTROOCULOGRAPHY GIVING HUGE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACADEMIC RESEARCH

Shin'ichiro Kanoh talks about JINS MEME's social potential and give you the secret story behind the development of electrooculography sensing technology from a neural engineering perspective.

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I’m Shin'ichiro Kanoh. I am an Associate Professor at Shibaura Institute of Technology’s Department of Electronic Engineering.

My research specialty is neural engineering. I study whether there are engineering applications for the body’s nervous system, as well as the control system that governs parts of the body, like the brain and muscles. In my current research I am developing an interface called a brain-computer interface that will monitor brain activity to sense what the person is thinking and wants to do, thus connecting the brain to the world around us.

Because the eyes sit right in front of the brain, I think they are connected directly to the mind. So if, for example, we could get information about the mind from the eyes, not the brain, we wouldn’t need as many electrodes on the head to get information about what’s going on inside the brain. By simply wearing these glasses, I believe that we may be able to extract, to some degree, information on a person from signals from the eyes, which are relatively easier to capture than brain signals.

I think blinking could be the biggest factor. When we get sleepy, at least in my case, blink frequency always increases, and the same thing happens with other test subjects. Alternatively, after a certain point, blink rate reverses and rapidly grows infrequent. Blink strokes, or the distance the eyelid moves up and down, quickly narrows, until the eyelids shut. I think we may be able to identify the relationship between drowsiness and eye movement. Examples of important applications would include keeping drivers safe, raising the productivity of office workers, and preventing overwork, but I also think that we could apply these findings to various kinds of leisure activities as well.

Just by having people wear these glasses, we’ll know everything about their conditions. So people and computers around the wearer will be able to provide the appropriate care. That will mean that we won’t bottle up stress to extreme levels. When the wearer gets tired, we could ask him to rest or listen to music, gently caring for the body. I would like to make the work and lives of human beings as stress-free as possible.

* Please note that positions/titles in the interview were current at the time of filming, yet have since changed.

Shin'ichiro Kanoh

Now an Professor of Electronic Engineering at the Shibaura Institute of Technology's College of Engineering, Kanoh completed his doctoral coursework in electrical and communication engineering at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Engineering in 1996 and was awarded a Ph.D. in engineering. He has served as assistant professor for graduate students and an associate professor for undergrads at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Engineering and has been in his current position since April 2016. Kanoh conducts research to reveal how the brain works and create a brain-computer interface (BCI) to bridge the boundary between the brain and the world around us.

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