Archive for the 'EEG' Category

Canine Mind Reading

That’s right! It is wallace-shawn-inconceivable that the Indegogo No More Woof campaign raised over $22,000 from 231 contributors. The project has been around since late 2013, but this is the first time I’ve run across it (via the recent IEEE article below). I just couldn’t resist posting the picture.

It goes without saying that the Scandinavian-based company NSID (currently “hibernating”) failed to deliver on its promise. This is well chronicled by IEEE: The Cautionary Tale of “No More Woof,” a Crowdfunded Gadget to Read Your Dog’s Thoughts.

The article even mentions Melon, a human EEG headband Kickstarter that I was involved with. I feel fortunate that I actually received a working device.

BCI is very difficult even under the best of circumstances with humans. I think the correct thought sequence for working with any EEG-based device is:

  1. “I’m excited”
  2. “I’m curious who that is?”
  3. “I’m tired”

Woof!

Melon Headband Android SDK

It appears that the Melon Headband Alpha Android SDK is no longer available from Melon. See Melon Headband — Android Beta.

Below is a copy of the SDK that I received in April 2015. I successfully built and ran the AndroidMelonBasicSample application on my Motorola phone. It actually communicated with the Melon headband!

Melon was purchased by DAQRI in February 2015. They still maintain a Melon product page, but the Google+ Melon Headband – Android Users community (see update below) has been all but silent for over 6 months.  That plus the website message “We’re back in the lab crafting new things” is a good indication that Melon development is no longer active.

Download: AndroidMelonSDKSample.zip.

Update (4/6/16): The community has shut down:

melon-last-post

Melon Headband — Android Beta

About 2 years ago (May 2013) I backed this Kickstarter project:  Melon: A Headband and Mobile App to Measure Your Focus. I received the hardware (headband and accessories) about a month ago.
melon-as-shipped

The Android application became available yesterday.

melon-training   melon-voltage
I’m having trouble focusing (according to the Melon anyway), but at least the device and software seem to be functioning. As expected, the software needs a lot of work. No use in bashing beta software though.

I just downloaded the alpha SDK. Now the real fun begins…

Company link: Melon

EEG Dating

eeg-datingI’ve been tracking EEG-related stories for many years. This perfect Valentine’s Day technology story: ‘EEG Dating’ matches people based on their brainwave data is certainly worth adding to the catalog. The end goal:

Many dating services ask countless questions. With EEG matching, there should be no need for the questions that most people shade the truth with.

I have no idea what this ‘Color Spectrum Analysis of EEG Data’ (from Biometric Dating) is, but it’s sure pretty:biometricdating

Granted, they are in the process of testing their theory by using data from long-term married couples. I sure hope they’re using happily married couples, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous!

Oh, and don’t forget to try: Computers can read your mind! (still amazing!).

Brain Health Device

MuseHeadbandThe latest incarnation of EEG-based devices comes from Muse – The Brainwave Sensing Headband.

Just like other BCI claims, How Mind-Controlled Games Work – And Why It’s Way, Way Bigger Than That  is a new approach to consumer brain monitoring applications. From the Muse site (my highlighting):

Our early apps will be focused on building the core of your mind to improve intellectual skills such as memory and concentration, or emotional skills like maintaining composure in high stress situations. Other Muse apps would be just plain fun stuff so you could paint or compose music with your mind or play video games using your mind as the game controller.

The FAQ assures you they’re not mind reading and that it’s not a mind control device.

Taking the “brain heath” approach, see CES 2013: InteraXon debuts Muse along with Brain Health System application, is an interesting twist.  I’m a big fan of EEG-based technology. The research efforts and advancements in the BCI field have the potential to improve many lives.

InteraXon is probably doing great things (e.g. the headband is very clever) and they appear to be active in the BCI community. My only issue is with the marketing claims being made.  Just like the mind control game controllers that have come before (see Turning the Mind Into a Joystick), the reality of the current technology is still not able to live up to most people’s expectations.  This seems especially true when it comes to something as subjective as concentration or stress.  Also, painting with your mind — really?

InteraXon raised over $287,000 through Crowdfunding at Indiegogo: MUSE: The Brain-Sensing Headband that lets you control things with your mind. Many of the contributions levels included receiving a device and the brain fitness app.  They also expect to provide developers with a SDK by mid-year. That might be fun to play with.

Hacking Your Brain

BCI research is important work (see here). The availability of reasonably priced hardware and general purpose APIs has made it easy to investigate many aspects of how EEG processing of can be used to control the external environment.

The extrapolation of this work into the concept of mind reading software appears to be inevitable, but even after all these years, is still annoying. The latest incarnation of this is based on reputable work at Universities of Oxford and Geneva, and the University of California, Berkeley:  Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data.

To start with, finding a correlation between P300 responses and a person’s image recognition — by 15% – 40% compared to random guessing — isn’t exactly earth shattering.  Also, note that P300 is an average of multiple evoked responses. This requires many repetitions of the stimulus (16 times in this study) to reduce the noise enough and see the signal at all.  As a practical matter, this is a really long way from brain malware.

Checkout Computers can read your mind. Still amazing!

UPDATE 8/21/12:

Here’s the graphic from Hacking the Human Brain? Not As Impossible As You Think about the same research:

I didn’t realize there was a whole website for “NEWS ABOUT BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACES (BCI), MIND-CONTROLLED GADGETS & BIOFEEDBACK” — interesting stuff.

Controlling a Computer with EMG

Microsoft has applied for a patent for using finger flexing to control a computer.

I’ve talked many times in the past about the use of EEG technology for computer control (brain-computer interface, BCI).

As discussed in the RWW article, there are many challenges to making this work. Just like with EEG, calibration of the EMG sensors and training will require innovative solutions.

It seems to me that this type of gesture-based control has quite a bit more potential than what can be obtained through the interpretation of EEG signals.  In either case, the big benefit of advancements in these human-computer interface (HCI) technologies is that they could ultimately improve communications capabilities for the disabled.

Brain Wave Monitoring Through the Extremities

The recent Time Magazine article Thought Control (subscription required) describes what is essentially another brain-computer interface.  What’s novel about this device is that the EEG signal is monitored from dry electrodes on the arm or leg. The BodyWave® Brain Wave Monitoring (pdf) system developed by Freer Logic claims to allow measurement of brain wave activity away from the head:

BodyWave simply views brain energy as a field, collects the field energy as if the brain were a radio tower broadcasting from the brain and through the body.

For the purposes of teaching “stress control, increase attention, and facilitate peak mental performance”, this may well be an adequate method.  Not having to wear the more traditional EEG head gear is certainly an advantage.  Providing reliable control of computer interaction tasks via either “mind reading” method is not likely to happen any time soon (see Turning the Mind into a Joystick).

Turning the Mind Into a Joystick

More “mind reading” hyperbole in today’s New York Times Magazine: The Cyborg in Us All.

I’ve talked about EEG-related technology many times in the past. Here are some quotes from the article:

This creates a pulse in his brain that travels through the wires into a computer. Thus, a thought becomes a software command.

We’re close to being able to reconstruct the actual music heard in the brain and play it.

… a “telepathy helmet” that would allow soldiers to beam thoughts to one another.

The NeuralPhone was meant to demonstrate that one day we might mind-control the contact lists on our phones.

The general public has two reactions when the lay press publishes this kind of stuff:

  1. I always knew this would come true. I.e. perpetuation of scientific fantasies.
  2. This is really scary stuff. I don’t want anybody reading my mind — or worse, controlling it.
If you know anything about the underlying techniques and algorithms you also know that “mind reading” and useful brain-controlled interfaces are a long way off.  Because the article fails to provide any sort of time-frame perspective, why won’t someone think these capabilities exist now.
The real problem I have with these kinds of articles is that this is important work that could potentially improve the quality of life for many disabled individuals.  Hyping it up to be something it’s not doesn’t help anyone.
One more quote:

“This is freaky.” And it was.

Huh? … I think the NYT needs to improve their editorial oversight.

 

Your Brain on Ads

Today’s New York Times article Making Ads That Whisper to the Brain gives a pretty balanced view of using EEG monitoring for doing market research — “Neuromarketing.”

This is not a mind reader,… We can only measure whether you are paying attention.

I write frequently on EEG related technologies, and often sceptically about some of its applications. The term “pop neurology” seems to apply here, especially when it comes to the ability for this technology to correlate to purchasing behavior. The establishment of NeuroStandards will only ensure that everyone is fooling themselves the same way.

Also, “brain-whispering” makes no sense. Most ads I see are loud and intellectually insulting (TV) or are visually annoying (Web) — it’s more like brain-shouting.

Here’s a Today show segment on this: Inside the brain of a shopper.

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