Browse Netflix With Your Brain: Engineers Prototype Mind Control Hack

Muse headband
Courtesy of Interaxon

Netflix’s next product innovation may just be mind control: Four Netflix engineers recently built a prototype that allows viewers to browse the company’s TV app without any remote control, and select titles simply by thinking about what they want to watch.

To accomplish this, the engineers relied on a Muse headband, which can sense the brainwaves of anyone who is wearing it. The headband is being advertised as a way to train meditation and mindfulness — but Netflix’s team instead repurposed it as a gizmo to help the mindless who have trouble keeping track of their remote control.

Mindflix was just one of the projects developed as part of Netflix’s internal hack day earlier this month, during which employees had 24 hours to come up with unique and offbeat projects and experiments that could improve the Netflix experience one way or another.

Other projects highlighted in a company blog post Monday included a Christmas sweater capable of spelling out messages, “Stranger Things” style, a donation splash page that would allow viewers to open their wallets for charities after watching documentaries on Netflix, a social viewing experience for customers with multiple Netflix accounts and a “Stranger Things” video game.

Netflix has been doing these kinds of hack days for a couple of years now. The company typically tends to publicly highlight the wackier ideas that won’t likely be part of any actual Netflix product any time soon, but it occasionally also ships products and features that were first thought out during a hack day. For example, Netflix’s first foray into virtual reality came after engineers toyed with the idea of a VR app at a hack day in 2014.

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  1. One of the things missing on Netflix is something that tells you the length of something you are selecting, especially the time of the Episodic listings. I want to know if what I am going to watch is 20 min, 40 min, 1 hour, or something else. Once you select it, then you finally get the time of the episode. Also they need more information about the shows, especially if it is many episodes. I like the feature that allows you to look through the further episodes of the show so you can get a general idea of where it is heading. A lot of the time I have started something without really knowing much about it. A separate page that is probably a page or more longer that tells you important things about the show. Too much information is better than too little. If you think that you are going to like the show, then be able to link right to it, and add it to the other shows that you have been watching. They are pretty good at that, but they also need to add a button that will remove a show that you have watched a few episodes of, but are not interested in more. Now they just hang around forever. I really like Netflix and have had it for about 6 months and plan on staying forever, but they really need to supply the customer more information on the shows that they might want to watch.

  2. The donation splash page is actually a great idea. Sometimes I binge watch docs on Netflix and occasionally I come across a great one that I wouldn’t mind donating to for whatever reason.

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