OpenBCI is a brain-computer interface for Makers

OpenBCI – designed by Joel Murphy & Conor Russomanno – is a low-cost programmable open-source EEG platform that gives Makers easy access to their brainwaves.

“Our vision is to realize the potential of the open-source movement to accelerate innovation in brain science through collaborative hardware and software development,” the duo wrote in a recent Kickstarter post.

“Behind the many lines of code and circuit diagrams, OpenBCI has a growing community of scientists, engineers, designers, makers, and a whole bunch of other people who are interested in furthering our understanding of the brain.”

Brain-computer interfacing (BCI) is a relatively new field of science that offers a wide range of potential applications. For example, medical grade BCIs are often used to help individuals with damaged cognitive or sensory-motor functions. In addition, more affordable BCIs are being designed to address various neurotherapy applications.

“Both neurofeedback and biofeedback are starting to be used more frequently by artists, musicians, dancers, and other creative individuals who want to find new ways of connecting people with the world around them, making more immersive experiences,” the two explained. “There’s great potential for research in psychology and behavior studies with portable EEG devices that can record brain activity in real-world environments.”

In addition to an ADS1299 IC, the OpenBCI is equipped with Atmel’s ATmega328 (+ Arduino’s latest bootloader). Murphy and Russomanno have thoughtfully broken out all the Arduino pins, allowing Makers to blink lights or drive motors. In addition, Version 3 of the OpenBCI board uses bluetooth low energy (BTLE) for data transmission and programming of the ATMega controller.

On the software side, OpenBCI includes code examples written in Arduino, Processing, Python and openFramworks.

“We have no intention of reinventing the wheel, so we are actively working to make the hardware data accessible to all commonly used open-source EEG signal processing applications, such as BrainBay, OpenVibe and more,” Murphy and Russomanno added. “Because you have direct access to the data on the hardware side, making it portable to any existing EEG software is as easy as structuring the way the data is formatted and related.”

Interested in learning more about OpenBCI? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.

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