Emotiv, the company that has pioneered Electroencephalography (EEG) for the consumer market is working on a new product with more sensors. If you are not familiar with EEG, it is the recording of the brain’s electrical activity via sensors on the scalp.
The technology was initially used to study sleep disorders or diagnose coma conditions. However, the technology can also be applied to basic game controls, and that’s how it initially made its way to the market when I first tried it in 2008. Since then, it has been used to control robots, web sites, and some have even theorized that one day, our thoughts could be hacked.
While the original Emotiv hardware was focused on EGG reading, this new generation called Emotiv Insight will also acquire non-brain related data such as head motion and rotation. This is made possible by a 6-axis inertial sensor array which includes a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerator. Both can either use 8-bit or 12-bit resolution, which means that they are accurate to 1/4096 (12-bit) of whatever unit they were designed to measure. As usual, Emotiv has come up with an inspiring and futuristic design for Insight.
The end game is to correlate the brain readings with the motion readings in order to provide meaningful data to end-users. The company says that Insight could be used to help analyze and track fitness training progress. It could also be used for a plethora of applications that would require measuring things like attention, focus, stress levels, excitement etc… The software development kit provided by Emotiv also supports basic mental commands, and basic facial expression detection (wink, frown, smile…).
At the moment, the company is funding this project on Kickstarter and it has already blown past its (modest) $100k funding goal by 500%. The device is scheduled to arrive in 2014, and early backers have been promised to have an early access to the first units that roll out. The potential is big, but of course, it will come down to applications. Personally, I’d love to be able replace my keyboard with one of these. Who’s up to the challenge?