Flinging birds and slaying pigs with your thoughts

angry_birds_mind_control

[Rafael Mizrahi and Anat Sambol] decided that Angry Birds was missing one crucial element – mind control. They grabbed a copy of the game for their netbook and [Rafael] strapped on an Emotiv EPOC headset to see if he could play it without using a mouse or keyboard. While he was able to move the cursor around with his thoughts, he found that Emotiv’s EmoKey software lacked any sort of mouse button support. Undaunted, they turned to the Internet for help and found that he could map the Emotiv’s output to his mouse via another application, GlovePie.

As you can see in the video below their efforts were successful, though we doubt [Rafael] will be completely giving up his mouse just yet. With some more refinement, we imagine [Rafael] will be blasting pigs to kingdom come in no time.

If you are interested in trying this yourself, be aware that only the SDK version of the EPOC headset can be paired with 3rd party applications, the standard consumer version is locked into using solely authorized software.

Continue reading if you would like to see a video of their Angry Birds neural interface in action.

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EEG-assisted hand control

ipsihand

[Sam Fok], an engineering student at the Washington University School of Engineering wrote in to share a project he and his classmates [Raphael Schwartz, Mark Wronkiewicz, Charles Holmes, Jessica Zhang, Nathan Brodell, and Thane Somers] have been working on as their entry in the 2011 RESNA Student Design Competition. Their project, IpsiHand, is designed to help rehabilitate those who have suffered a stroke or other Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Most motor functions in the body are controlled by the opposite hemisphere of the brain, a process called contralateral motor control. When a patient suffers from TBI, they often lose control over some portion of the body opposite the injury. Recent studies have shown however, that while most motor control is contralateral, hand movements also create ipsilateral brain activity. This means that the uninjured side of the brain can effectively control both hands, with a bit of mechanical assistance.

Their process uses an Emotiv Epoch EEG headset, which we have discussed before, to monitor the patients’ brain for activity. The data is sent wirelessly to a computer which processes the data, singling out ipsilateral brain waves. The computer then actuates a modified hand orthosis to control grasping in real time.

We think their work is fantastic, and the team’s creation has a wide array of applications in the field of therapy and assisted living. We wish them luck in their competition, and hope to see this technology put to good use in the future.

Python library for Emotiv EEG

Want to control things with your mind? The Emotiv EPOCH EEG is one of the best pieces of hardware you can get that is ready to be hacked into your project. Too bad the entry-level SDK will set you back $500. Or you can take advantage of [Cody Brocious'] work by using his Emotiv Python Library. He sniffed around the data coming in over the USB connection and discovered that it’s encrypted. With a bit of trickery he extracted the key and built the 128-aes decryption routine into his package. So far this just pulls raw data from the unit so it’s up to you to figure out how to properly filter the signals and differentiate which sensor corresponds to each data stream. But it’s a start, and hopefully it’ll lead to more mind controlled doo-dads.

Forget the Rovio, drive a taxi with your mind.

While browsing through flicker this morning, we spotted this interesting image. Two radio controlled cars hooked to Arduinos. What was going on? What is [knolleary] doing with them? We couldn’t find any information so we clicked through to his personal site. What we found was a quite interesting story about how he set up a race between two taxi cabs being controlled by the Emotiv headsets for the BBC. Yeah, forget driving a Rovio around with your mind. We’re still a bit curious about the two bumper cars in the picture. We can see that his tests were done on a blue radio controlled mini, so what are the bumper cars for? Did any of you catch this on the air? How well did the taxis drive? Was he using the facial expressions or the concentration?