The energy that brains emit, commonly understood as brainwaves, is often regarded as mysterious and accessible only to scientists. A new device that measures this energy and translates it for a variety of purposes may soon become available to the public for a price that could make it a common item.
Electroencephalography (EEG) technology is used in this open-source brain-computer interface kit. The device is called OpenBCI and it was developed by engineers Joel Murphy and Conor Russomanno.
Brain-computer interfacing (BCI) is a relatively new field, and it has the potential to offer a limitless range of applications. In the healthcare sector, BCIs are used in aiding people with cognitive and sensory impairment, ADHD, phobia, anxiety, depression, and other psychological ailments. It is also used by dancers, musicians, and other artists to discover ways of expressing themselves.
Russomanno explained further uses: “Immediate practical applications for OpenBCI include but are not limited to: self-monitoring, sleep analysis, passive and active gaming interface controls and inputs.” Future plans include getting “people to better understand their own brains and minds,” Russomanno said.
He added: “Mindfulness is a growing field, but is still very qualitative in nature. OpenBCI and other EEG technologies have the ability to provide radically new insight into the understanding of human consciousness and its relationship to the external world.”
OpenBCI stands out from most EEG devices with its simplicity. With minimum power consumption and compatible with most types of electrodes, OpenBCI allows access to high-quality EEG data using just a computer and a few cables.
Russomanno said: “The main difference between OpenBCI and existing commercial alternatives is the fact that OpenBCI is totally open source. From raw electrical signal to meaningful output, there are no blackbox algorithms or proprietary limitations. In addition, the product is intended for makers and people who want to build with OpenBCI, not just use it passively. It is very customizable in nature.”
OpenBCI’s developers chose to keep the technology open, instead of patenting it and making more money, they say, because they want it to be used for social good without restraint.
Russomanno said: “We believe it’s important for BCI to remain a tool for good and a field of research that anyone can approach.”
The developers have surpassed their Kickstarter crowdfunding goal for the project and they are on their way to mass production.
Liberte Media writers contributed to this report. Liberte Media is an online agency that focuses on increasing user engagement through search engine optimization, pay-per-clicks, social media marketing, and content management.