Eric Maslowski, Technical Creative Consultant


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Mind Powers - EPOC EEG Tests

Devices that read a person's brain (EEG) waves have always been very expensive. Emotiv came out with one for the masses and an SDK to let those with interest to build programs around it. The EPOC itself has 14 sensors which are strategically placed to pick up activity from different areas of the brain. These are simple amplitude signals that can be isolated or combined to identify unique patterns of brain activity. These patterns can then trigger events. So, if you thought about a monkey very hard and recorded that as a pattern every time that pattern emerged any event you want would fire. For example, every time you think of a monkey a simulation throws a banana at you. (keeping it a family site...)

At the UM3D Lab we started just by looking at mapping brain signals to keyboard and mouse events. In particular, mapping these events to navigation in virtual environments which is very cool on it's own but when you consider its use for those with limited motor function it becomes an amazing tool. By focusing on just keyboard/mouse mappings it let us experiment with the concept of EEG utilization in applications without worrying about the details of implementation. After a few tests we soon realized that many of us were a little "scattered" and had a hell of time relying solely on thought patterns to control events. I blame soda pop. The concentration required to do a specific task on command was incredible and something that didn't hold up well against other stimuli such as in a fully immersive virtual environment.

We found that for a quick calibration and experience it was better to use facial expressions for events than purely internal thoughts. The EPOC wasn't recording the facial expressions themselves but rather the brains response to them. Since it was a physical action that could be easily replicated the user experience was far more consistent.

We're now looking into how the device compares against the typical research devices. There was also a student group (Mind Ensemble) that used the device and three others to create a musical performance using only brain waves.



Special thanks to Marin Abel and Mathew Schwartz.

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