I've just discovered the OpenBCI: Biosensing for Everybody Kickstarter project. BCI is short for Brain Computer Interface. This Kickstarter is about an EEG device. Such a device looks like a helmet. It has several electrodes which you place on your scalp. Those electrodes measure "voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current within the neurons of the brain" (source: Wikpedia).
I'm really curious about this, because I recently had some thoughts that medicine is currently not working as I want it to be. Doctors rely on the information they get by their patients, and they shouldn't. Patients can either directly lie or say something which is not try by accident. Instead of taking this feedback from patients, decisions should more often rely on hard data.
For locked-in people, that means people who have sever difficulties to communicate with the outside world, it would be awesome if we could use BCIs to help them. I know this is far in the future, but you have to start at some point.
Another use I would really be curious is some kind of "automatic interrogation". Think of terrorists / criminals who got caught, but are not willing to give the police necessary information. I think we should have the possibility to extract this kind of information from them, without hurting them. This idea was mentioned in one of the books of Daniel Suarez; I think it was Daemon.
The last nice application of BCIs would be REALLY convenient ways to interact with computers. Again, this is something really far in the future, but an awesome idea ☺
It is an EEG board. Whatever that means:
The OpenBCI Ganglion is a high-quality, affordable bio-sensing device. On the input side, there are 4 high-impedance differential inputs, a driven ground (DRL), a positive voltage supply (Vdd), and a negative voltage supply (Vss). The inputs can be used as individual differential inputs for measuring EMG or ECG, or they can be individually connected to a reference electrode for measuring EEG.
Ultracortex Mark IV
The Ultracortex Mark IV is an EEG headset.
The Ultracortex Mark III is the latest working version of the OpenBCI headset. You can find all of the 3D files. links to hardware, and an assembly on our Github repo. We designed it for maximum adjustability and ease of use. In our design thinking, we prioritized the use of dry electrodes (pictured in the images above). Using dry sensors significantly reduces the time needed for setup (no more sticky paste!) and makes the overall experience of wearing the headset much more pleasant.
There are three options:
- Print-It-Yourself ($350): this reward comes with all of the pieces required to assemble a full Ultracortex Mark IV aside from the pieces you can print yourself with a desktop 3D-printer, in addition to an OpenBCI Ganglion Board. This kit is perfect for backers who have their own 3D-printer.
- Unassembled ($450): this reward comes with all of the pieces required to assemble a full Ultracortex Mark IV headset, including the pieces that are 3D-printable, and an OpenBCI Ganglion Board.
- Fully Assembled ($650): if you select this reward, you will receive a fully- assembled Ultracortex Mark IV with an OpenBCI Ganglion Board. It will arrive ready to plug in and fire up!
What I would expect from it to be able to differentiate at least five different kinds of signals which I can willently make. Why five?
- Right (Yes)
- Left (No)
With those, you can make a virtual keyboard which is usable. Of course, you can also do so with two actions (next, enter), but that is MUCH more of a pain. The more different signals you can distinguish, the better.
I also expect it to be able to see when I feel pain or when I sleep.
Currently, there are basically no specs available (see comments). Some comments seem to suggest that there are only 16 electrodes in use. Then they speak about a 10-20 and a 10-10 system. I have no idea what that means.
The People behind it
The project is done by Joel Murphy and Conor Russomanno. They seem to have made a similar Kickstarter called "Spiderclaw", but I could only find the GitHub repository. They also said they are affiliated with Pulse Sensor
In a video, Paul Sajda (PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology at Columbia University, source) says it is a "high quality recording system".
Aaron Trocola (Industrial Designer at Threeform) seems to be the person who designs the 3D printed parts.
By now, this project does not give me the impression that it is ready-to-use. I am still waiting for some feedback, but I guess I will rather wait for other (independant) people writing reviews about it. Preverably mentioning it in scientific papers which get published in notable journals or cited by enough other people.
I couldn't find any articles about OpenBCI on scholar.google.com, except for the following:
- 32c3: Evolution of Brain-Computer Interfaces on YouTube. 28 December 2015.
- openbci.pl seems to be something different? But it has a publication User-centered design of brain-computer interfaces: OpenBCI.pl and BCI Appliance
- github.com/OpenBCI/Ultracortex: Instructions how to assemble the Utracortex Mark 1 - Mark 3