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Building a blink based input device

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Fans of the AMC show Breaking Bad will remember the Original Gangsta [Hector Salamanca]. When first introduced to the story he communicates by ringing a bell. But after being moved to a nursing home he communicates by spelling out messages with the assistance of a nurse who holds up a card with columns and rows of letters. This hack automates that task, trading the human assistant for a blink-based input system.

[Bob Stone] calls the project BlinkTalk. The user wears a Neurosky Mindwave Mobile headset. This measures brainwaves using EEG. He connects the headset to an mBed microcontroller using a BlueSMiRF Bluetooth board. The microcontroller processes the EEG data to establish when the user blinks their eyes.

The LCD screen first scrolls down each row of the displayed letters and numbers. When the appropriate row is highlighted a blink will start scrolling through the columns until a second blink selects the appropriate character. Once the message has been spelled out the “SAY!” menu item causes the Emic2 module to turn the text into speech.

If you think you could build something like this to help the disabled, you should check out thecontrollerproject.com where builders are connected with people in need.

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Control a playlist with your mind

Because switching apps to change a song is such a taxing ordeal, [Oscar Celma] and [Ching-Wei Chen] decided to use their collective brainpower to change Last.FM playlists with their minds. They call their project Buddhafy, and it works by taking off-the-shelf EEG hardware and tying it into music streaming APIs.

For the build, the guys used a NeuroSky MindWave to read alpha waves inside [Oscar]‘s head. The data from the MindWave was passed into a Python script that sends requests to the Last.FM and Spotify APIs. High alpha waves in brain wave patterns correspond with concentration or a deep meditative state. If [Oscar] concentrates very hard, he’ll be rewarded with calm and relaxing tunes. If [Oscar] loses focus, the music changes to the best song ever written.

The guys put up the slides from the presentation they gave at MusicHackDay in San Fransisco this last week. There’s also a video of their build in action; you can check that out after the break.

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Nerf mind bullets

[Chris] thinks that using your brain to control your trigger finger is a passé way of operating a toy firearm. Instead, he’s using his mind to fire foam bullets at whatever he thinks needs to pretend-die. To read his will, he’s chosen the Neurosky MindWave, a device that we just looked at for servo control. That hack shows how to patch into the USB dongle that comes with the device, but [Chris] opted to use a BlueSMiRF module from Sparkfun to connect the headset to an Arduino via Bluetooth.

The rest of the hack involves modifying the gun for automatic firing. It’s a Nerf Stampede, which takes six D-cells to power the electrical firing system. [Chris] didn’t want to carry that weight around in the body of the weapon itself so he installed a port for external power and added a firing mechanism at the same time. It uses relays to complete the circuit normally operated by the trigger. Now logic-level signals have no problem dispensing justice from the brightly-colored device.

[via Make]

MindFlex teardown

MindFlex
Maybe we’re just imagining things, but it seems to us like brainwave control is the latest trend in toys. Similar to Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer, Mattel has recently released the MindFlex, a game that involves moving a plastic ball up and down through an obstacle course that you control using your brainwaves. Naturally when [Alpha] saw this, he decided to take it apart and document what he found. After disassembling both the headset and the base, he found that most of the chips were covered in black resin making them unidentifiable. However, he was able to find identify one chip, the NeuroSky TGAT1-L64 D498Q-010 0924. Judging by the name alone, we would guess that this is the chip that makes the brainwave control possible. While there’s no mention as to whether you’ll be able to interface with this like you can with the Force Trainer, we’re sure that it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out how to use this to control more than just a floating plastic ball.

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