A product codeveloped by an IC student may soon help reveal a whole new segment of the musical mind. Jessica Voutsinas is the cocreator of a product called Trills, a platform and set of blue-tooth enabled headphones that generate personalized playlists based on a user's current and desired emotional state. These playlists can enhance a person's focus, motivation, or wellbeing.

Jessica’s eyes were opened to the therapeutic power of music in IC’s Exploring Music as Medicine course, during which students play familiar songs for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s at local nursing homes and adult residential facilities. The music brings residents joy and can even reconnect them to memories or bring about moments of lucidity.

"The class was a transformative experience for me, says Jessica. It seemed unbelievable that music could do something that pills can’t. But after witnessing this and experiencing it for myself, my whole perception of music changed."

Inspired, Jessica approached cocreator Alex Patin—a computer science major and musician at Penn State—and they got to work on a prototype. Trills headphones contain electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors that analyze a user's brainwaves in realtime to indicate their current emotional status. This data informs a machine learning algorithm that pairs with the user's preferred music service to create curated playlists.

Jessica and Alex have since developed a company around the product called Musical Minds and have enlisted a group of neuroscientists, musicians, engineers, and mathematicians to help work on the startup. They say that the goal of the company is to promote mental wellness and to reimagine how and why we listen to music.