This software sees if your brain is busy before interrupting

There's a modern-day malady that everyone suffers from - getting distracted by phone notifications in the middle of something important and struggling to regain focus again. But now computer scientists have developed software that automatically screens out low-priority emails or texts.

It's called Phylter, and uses a headband to detect when you're concentrating on something. Changes in blood flow in the prefrontal cortex can signal brain activity, allowing the program to read when you're 'in the zone' and know not to disturb you.

A machine-learning algorithm calibrates the system to different brains, while tests using Google Glass helped the team calibrate what type of notifications were important to push through even when you're busy.

Kind of busy

"Imagine a system where you have a little dial and you can tell it, 'Now I'm kind of busy, so leave me alone'," Robert Jacob told New Scientist. A prototype of the system was shown off at the Human-Computer Interaction International Conference in LA.

As well as offering a barrier to concentration loss, it's hoped that the system could work with other devices - like activity trackers - and perhaps even monitor other data besides brain activity. Now, what was I doing before I started writing this again?

Image credit: Matthew G // CC BY 2.0