Use The Force, Luke…to Turn Off Your TV

Have you ever wanted to turn on or off your TV just by thinking about it? We love this hack mainly because it uses an old Star Wars Force Trainer game. You can still buy them for about $40-$80 USD online. This cool little toy was introduced in 2009 and uses a headset with electrodes, and an electroencephalography (EEG) chip. It transmits the EEG data to control a fan that blows air into a tube to “levitate” a ball, all the while being coached on by the voice of Yoda. (Geesh! Kids these days have the best toys!)

[Tinkernut] started by cracking open the headset, where he found the EEG chip made by a company called NeuroSky (talk about a frightening sounding company name). The PCB designer was kind enough to label the Tx/Rx pins on the board, so hooking it up to an Arduino was a snap. After scavenging an IR LED and receiver from an old VCR, the hardware was just about done. After a bit of coding, you can now control your TV by using the force! (Ok, by ‘force’ I mean brainwaves.)  Video after the break.

Note: [Tinkernut’s] blog page should have more information available soon. In the meantime if you can find his Arduino Brain Library on github.

This isn’t the first EEG to TV interface we’ve featured. Way back in 2010 we featured a project that used an Emotiv EPOC EEG headset to turn on and off a TV. But at $400 for the headset, it was a little too expensive for the average Jedi.

10 thoughts on “Use The Force, Luke…to Turn Off Your TV

  1. I wonder if you could use this to activate one of those Japanese piston masturbators. It’d work as an on/off switch of course, but I wonder if you could be in the right frame of mind to keep it turned on. I think I have a new project.

        1. Think Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally…Homing in on the goal like an “yes, yes,oh god yes” missile. Due to feedback loop it might be an idea to ensure the device is current limited…

  2. Cool idea. I wanted to tackle a project like this. I was thinking more along the lines of sending raw data to a phone with BT or WiFi and letting the phone pass it along to a server that would do the cool stuff.

  3. I’m not positive, but I don’t believe this actually measures any brain activity at all. It is picking up electrical signals in the skin commonly assossiated with muscular activity. I have an OCZ Nia which is a computer peripheral made back in the early 2000’s. It claimed to be able to read the electrical signals from the brain, which it did. But they were useless because the best way to control anything was with blinks, eye movement, and jaw clenching. You couldn’t simply think about moving forward. It only measures the electrical frequency, and while brainwaves come in frequencies, you have no way to control them with your Id (the self). They happen behind the scenes. The device does pick up sharp spikes during muscular activity and it can accurately identifty which muscle group, and that ended up being what most people used it for.

    1. It wasn’t entirely useless, it just needed software to take advantage of it, or calibration. People did actually manage to play Quake 3 using it fully (not just muscle readouts) but they spent time configuring it appropriately.

      The OCZ Nia became dead in the water when their funding disappeared due to fraud from their investors, unfortunately the SDK never saw the light of day.

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