Research Arm of U.S. Military Funds Development of Low-Cost DIY Brain Scanner

Qmed Staff

September 27, 2013

1 Min Read
Research Arm of U.S. Military Funds Development of Low-Cost DIY Brain Scanner

A novel low-cost brain scanner debuted this past weekend. Funded by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the do-it-yourself device could be a boon for neuroscience researchers.At Maker Faire, an engineering and technology conference, Dr. Lindsay Allen wore a specialized blue cap filled with electrodes. Electrical signals from her brain were fed into a small green device, approximately the size of a baseball card. This was mounted on an Arduino microcontroller, providing a video output. This was connected to Dr. Allen's laptop. On her laptop screen, onlookers could see her brainwaves in real-time.Electroencephalic systems are not new. However, traditional electroencephalography machines can carry a high price tag, sometimes costing thousands of dollars.Dr. Allen works as an engineer for Crear, a company partially funded by DARPA. In the Maker Faire demonstration, Dr. Allen was hooked up to an open-source device, dubbed OpenBCI. This device can be used to capture signals from eight electrodes at the same time. The OpenBCI platform was designed by Creare.While some modern EEG systems do carry a lower price tag, most neural monitoring tools still carry a high price tag. On top of this, many have proprietary or copyrighted designs. This can make it difficult for casual artists, hackers and scientists to play around with EEG technology. If the cost of neuronal monitoring decreases enough, there is significant potential for low-cost mind-controlled video games, science experiments, medical research and more.Dr. Bill Casebeer, a program manager at DARPA, believes the cost of EEG systems demoed at next year's Maker Faire could be as low as $30.

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