Cecilio Gabriel F. Magsino
NeuroSky: When Mind Meets Machine
In 2004 at Silicon Valley, California, fiction was turned to fact when NeuroSky was founded. Basically, NeuroSky creates Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technologies using concepts such as Electroencephalography (EEG) and Electromyography (EMG) which are methods of quantifying electrical activity along the scalp and along skeletal muscles respectively. The thing that separates NeuroSky from other biotechnology companies is how they integrated the use of EEGs and low-cost dry sensors, older EEG devices use gel for better conduction of electrons from the brain to the sensors thus is not dry, in their BCI technologies. (Eller, 2007)
Mainly being an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), NeuroSky releases it’s products not directly to consumers but rather through their partner developers, and researchers. In 2011 however they decided to produce the MindWave, an EEG sensing biosensor headset. The MindWave serves as an open source software/hardware product that is the perfect platform for development and innovation by the masses by giving them the flexibility and freedom to alter the software/hardware of the product to cater to their different ideas and projects.(Monica, 2008) At 80$ a headset, NeuroSky leads the market with cheap yet high-quality and flexible EEG headsets.(NeuroSky, 2014)
Now let’s talk about the science behind NeuroSky’s EEG Biosensors. Brainwaves, or more precisely the electrical discharges from when neurons in your brain interact with one another, can be measured using the method known as EEG. The variances in these neural interactions produce different brain states with corresponding different frequencies. There are two distinct brain states in general, Beta Waves at 12-30 Hz are associated with concentration while Alpha Waves at 8-12 Hz are associated with relaxation.(NeuroSky, 2014) An example of how this is utilized by the biosensor is that you could attach receptors on light switches, by tweaking the software a bit you could easily set the lights on or off by aiming your attention and concentrating on the light switch therefore sending signals to the receptors. There are also minute muscle contraction patterns associated with each brain state and NeuroSky uses EMG to detect these isolated patterns to complement the EEG readings. Although being very precise and accurate, using EEG has its own speed bumps. Environmental noise from electronic devices around the device can greatly affect the efficacy of the sensors. Which is why NeuroSky developed complex algorithms that circumvents the noise without the use of a conductive solution by integrating dry electrodes that are able to measure EEG waves millimeters away from the scalp , therefore developing the only dry and non contact EEG sensors known to man.(NeuroSky, 2014)
Showing a lot of promise and potential, there were already a lot of applications that the Biosensors were applied to. Though mostly used for commercial purposes such as researches, video games, and other media, most of the consumers use it in more and more creative ways. NeuroSky has provided mankind with technology that would bring us closer to achieving ideas of fiction such as telekinesis, mind control, and The Force. All we have to do is wait and see how far it could take us.
Eller, Evan, 2007. GDC 2010: Hands-Off With NeuroSky\'s Brain-Computer Interface Tech. vgchartz.com. http://www.vgchartz.com/article/7479/gdc-2010-hands-off-with-neuroskys-brain-computer-interface-tech/. March 9, 2014.
Monica, Sierra, 2008. NeuroSky to Present Project Millenia. techpin.com. http://www.techpin.com/neurosky-to-present-project-millennia/. March 9, 2014.
NeuroSky Inc., 2014. Brainwaves. Not thoughts. neurosky.com. http://neurosky.com/products-markets/eeg-biosensors/algorithms/. March 9, 2014.