This DIY EEG hat can turn brainwaves into light


You can now make a beanie with lights that change color and intensity in response to your level of attention and relaxation.


Have you ever wanted to visualize your brain activity in real-time? How about move an object on a screen with just your mind? A Maker by the name of “wavelet_spaghetti” recently devised what she calls Illumino — a recreational EEG hat capable of turning brainwaves into light.

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According to the Maker, she wanted her “simple toy EEG device” to be flexible enough to use the data yet inconspicuous to everyone else. In order to bring this mind-blowing creation to life, wavelet_spaghetti employed an everyday winter hat along with an Arduino and Neurosky’s ThinkGear ASIC module.

“The Neurosky chip is connected to an [Atmel based] Arduino microcontroller, which contains the software of Illumino. A USB adapter is attached to the Arduino, to allow easy access to the software from a computer.”

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The Maker advises that any tiny ‘duino can be used as long as it features an on-board USB slot, such as the Arduino LilyPad (ATmega168V). To make the wearable device both artistically creative and interactive, she equipped the hat’s white pom-pom with Adafruit NeoPixel LEDs, thereby enabling the wearer to visualize their brainwaves in real-time as an array of colorful light. As the Maker points out, each of the electronic components were discretely embedded “so it looks and feels as though you’re just wearing a comfy beanie.”

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The megaAVR powered board (whose software is accessible via a USB slot) converts real-time brain activity into light through the LEDs, which illuminate in various colors and intensities based on the mental state of the wearer, e.g. excitement and relaxation. The variation in colors and brightness of the RGBs can be manually adjusted via a small switch.

In case you were wondering, the brain-reading beanie also works simply as an EEG device without the decorative light show. If you rather not sport the cliché winter pom-pom, you can always place the NeoPixels elsewhere in the hat.

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The Maker notes that one option for making beautiful “brain art” with Illumino is through the programming language called Processing, which will allow a creator to write scripts that create unique visualizations and music.

“Simply import the live brain activity data from the hat by connecting the USB cable to the pom-pom (or wireless if you make the hat with Bluetooth). Then customize your Processing sketches so that the levels of ‘attention,’ ‘meditation’ or different brainwave types control the changes in the visualizations (color, opacity, movement, coordinates, rotation speed, etc),” wavelet_spaghetti writes.

What else can be done with this magical hat? The possibilities are endless when it comes to the Illumino, ranging from writing words to controlling moving blobs. See it in action below!

Looking for that perfect winter accessory? Here it is! You can find the Maker’s step-by-step tutorial on the project’s official Instructables page.

1 thought on “This DIY EEG hat can turn brainwaves into light

  1. Pingback: Controlling a robotic arm with your brain | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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