Mind Racer


Category: Trailblazing - Campaign
Agency: Hardhat
Client: Deakin University


Digital innovation is at the core of Deakin’s DNA and every year they develop an activation to run at their Open Days that pushes the boundaries and brings digital innovation to life for thousands of people.

Open Days are Deakin’s biggest recruitment events of the year, attracting thousands of prospective students, their families and influencers to their campuses. The events provide an amazing opportunity to inform and inspire at a time when choosing a university is at the forefront of prospective students’ minds.

For their 2018 Open Day activation they wanted to deliver an experience that showcases an emerging technology that is relevant to Deakin, in a way that is engaging for prospective students.


To position Deakin as a progressive, quality and innovative university, and generate feelings of pride in their prospective students.


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is an emerging technology that enables a person’s brain impulses to control a physical object outside of their body. Importantly, BCI is one of the countless emerging technologies that Deakin is conducting research into, in both the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit within the School of Psychology, as well as the University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation. It’s an area that’s set to revolutionise several industries, including health, defence, communications and gaming.

To position themselves as highly innovative and provide a hands-on, challenging experience to prospective students, in collaboration with creative agency Hardhat, they developed Mind Racer – an activation using BCI technology that enables players to propel a slot car around a racetrack using only the power of their mind.

Execution and Delivery

Mind Racer took the retro, yet nostalgic, concept of slot-car racing and gave it a futuristic twist providing players with the opportunity to drive the slot cars on a race track using brain power.

To make Mind Racer a technical reality, Hardhat took existing BCI technology and integrated it with their own bespoke race control software and hardware – which were developed from scratch – to be able to drive the slot cars using data received from the BCI headsets.

The headset "decoded" patterns in players’ brainwaves and calculated an "attention" reading (between 0 and 100). This reading was sent to a computer over Bluetooth, which was hard-wired into the track and controlled the speed of the car based on the attention reading. Integrated into this system was a custom designed and developed front end, which received power data from the headsets and race data from the track to display real-time race and headset information. This enabled spectators to view each player’s (brain) power level and also their current position in the race on screens, which ensured that Mind Racer was just as engaging for the crowd as it was for participants.

Mind Racer was promoted ahead of the Open Days in advertising for the events (e.g. radio advertising), on the Open Day microsite, in the Open Day program and across Deakin’s owned social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Knowing that the technology is very new and that on face value there may be a lack of understanding about how it works, Deakin also published an article on the University's content marketing hub, which was in turn promoted on social media, explaining BCI technology and featuring expert comments from a Deakin BCI researcher.


  • Over 18,000 people viewed or participated in the activation over two days
  • Generated over 500 leads.
  • Reached 150k people through promotion of Mind Racer across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • The related article explaining BCI technology and Deakin’s research reached more than 40k people through social media promotion.
  • Substantial media traction, receiving both local and national coverage.
  • 98% of attendees said the event met or exceeded their expectations.