Many people have eagerly awaited the day they can control technology using just their brains. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a monitoring method to record the electrical activity of the brain. The clinical definition of EEG is the recording of brain activity over a period of time. Wearable EEG headsets position noninvasive electrodes along the scalp. EEG electrodes pick up on and record the electrical activity in your brain. The collected signals are amplified and digitized then sent to a computer or mobile device for storage and data processing.
The billions of cells in your brain produce very small electrical signals that form non-linear patterns called brainwaves. EEG measures electrical activity in the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain. EEG sensors can record up to several thousands of snapshots of the electrical activity generated in the brain within a single second. EEG measures changes in the electrical activity of the brain produced. Voltage changes come from ionic current within and between some brain cells called neurons. An EEG test evaluates the electrical activity of the brain. EEG scans are performed by placing EEG sensors, which are small metal discs also called EEG electrodes, on your scalp. EEG electrodes pick up on and record the electrical activity in your brain. The recorded brainwaves are sent to amplifiers then to a computer or the cloud to process the data.
EEG in Consumer Research
EEG data can be a powerful tool for consumer insights. Brain responses provide unprecedented consumer feedback—in that EEG is being used to measure the gap between what consumers really pay attention to versus what they self-report liking or noticing. Combining EEG with other biometric sensors like eye-tracking, facial expression analyses and heart rate measurements can give companies an even fuller understanding of customer behavior. The use of neurotechnology like EEG to study consumer reactions is called neuromarketing.
Here is a sample of performance metrics observations of a customer recorded while tasting a protein bar using Emotiv Performance Metrics API.
EEG in Games & Application Development
EEG headsets for other uses, especially gaming, represent a somewhat less complex problem than market research testing. The emphasis here is on mapping a thought to an action. So for example, gross motor thoughts like imagining you are “pushing a ball away from you” can be mapped to moving a game character forwards, or a facial expression like raising your eyebrows can be mapped to firing a gun in the game. This would serve a hands-free experience in gaming.
Every EEG headset comes with its own SDK to use in development. We have used EPOC+ headset by Emotiv which provides Cortex as a wrapper around our SDK housing all the tools required to develop with Emotiv. Cortex integrates our headset’s data streams with third-party software enabling you to record data and create applications. It provides API access to different Emotiv data streams, tiered out across three license levels. Also you can use Community SDK to build your application.
Here is a sample on how you can integrate your Emotiv headset with Unity to develop a simple 3D FPS game:
Download the plugin from below:
Just simply copy/include that plugin into your project. The plugins are wrapper classes to connect to SDK library. Then you need to include them in your process classes and call the APIs.
The main three scripts are:
The first one manages the Emotiv classes and events, the second one manages the player movement using mental commands and the last one moves and rotates the camera using gyroscope.
Here is a working demo of the game:
EEG in Healthcare
Because EEG tests show brain activity during a controlled procedure, EEG results can contain information used to diagnose various brain disorders. Abnormal EEG data is displayed through irregular brainwaves. Abnormal EEG data can indicate signs of brain dysfunction, head trauma, sleep disorders, memory problems, brain tumors, stroke, dementia, seizure disorders like epilepsy and various other conditions. Depending on the intended diagnosis, doctors sometimes combine EEG with cognitive tests, brain activity monitoring and neuroimaging techniques.
It has to be mentioned that the EEG equipment market shows rapid development as it is a brand new field in technology and is still in process of discovering its possibilities. It has a huge scope in future from healthcare to predictive analysis driven by observations.
Resource & References
Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash