Last weekend, I trekked up to Boston for the Open Source Hardware Association Summit. The talks were amazing. It’s a great group to be a part of, and I love watching it grow. This post is not about the OSHWA Summit, however. It is about brains. My brains. And, yes, I do have a working set of brains. That was proved on Thursday afternoon, the day before, in a hotel right near Logan Airport.
My client in the DARPA EEG project came down from New Hampshire for an arranged meeting to view and test-drive a legit commercial EEG. We will need to test our equipment against something real, so he is looking to purchase a multi-channel rig. Serendipity timed everything just right, and I got dropped off at the hotel at exactly the appointed hour. I was going to be the test subject!
That’s me getting loaded up with electrode goo! We used 8 active electrodes, and the EEG hardware is mady by Cortech Solutions. Most of the electrodes were on the back of my head, and some on the sides. That’s a reference electrode there in the front, and a ground clip on my earlobe.
Once we got the cap on, plugged in, and signals showing up on the laptop, we ran a few tests. First, I blinked. You could see in the signals a discreet spike of noise that got smaller in the electrode signals that were placed further back on my head (further away from my eyelid muscles). Next, I gritted my teeth. This produced a high-frequency signal that overwhelmed any other signals. Cool! The afternoon included a Brain Computer Interface demonstration and I controlled the demonstration laptop with my brain! Here’s how it worked.
I wish I had pictures of this. The computer screen was set up in a grid of letters and numbers and command keys (space, backspace, enter, etc) the screen would flash entire rows or columns randomly, and my job was to count or otherwise notice when the letter or key I wanted to use lit up. As a beginner, I was set up with ~30 row/column flashes to ensure the computer was reading my brain correctly. The computer was looking for something called ‘evoked potentials’. My noticing the target key, causes a predictable change in my brainwave pattern. Then the computer locates the correct key by matching which row and column flashes have the best match to the expected evoked potential signal. After training with the system by spelling the word ‘water’, I spelled -on my own, with only my brain and eyeballs- the word ‘tight’. Damn that was cool.
This kind of computer control is something that we will be able to do with the EEG system that we’re building for Open BCI. The site is under construction, and will be fleshed out much more by the time of the NYC Maker Faire, where I will be hanging out at the DARPA EEG booth and participating in a talk on Saturday. More on the details of that in another post.
Brains, who knew how much fun they are?!
What is 12 Billion miles away and traveling at 38 thousand miles per hour?
The first human made hunk of stuff to make it out of our sun’s neighborhood, that’s what!
Never thought we’d throw a thing so high….
Here’s a great story from NASA
You sweet sweet thing
On the map, it looks like after you found some bad traffic, you flipped a bitch at Yellow Knife Bay. And, if I may make a first ever inter-planetary discovery, they drive on the wrong side of the road over there in Mars! You gotta watch out Curiosity! Look right!!
And I see now how you’re s’possed to flip-it queens style in Mars. That’s right. Get it up there into that bay, and stop in Glenelg for a coffee. Twice. Coming and going.
Science does it again! There’s much more here
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. So, the SpokePOV uses a Magnet to measure wheel rotation, and derives the Resonant frame rate by timing Magnet readings, and then it makes the Image appear, as if by some kind of circular magic, on the bicycle wheel! Thank you Adafruit, for this super cool toy! I use it to make legit brain-scan on a bike! I made two images of brains and fine-tuned in the SpokePOV software. The SpokePOV software is not very sophisticated, but it is Sunday after all, and I have a bottle of Lillet and an orange.
Just so you can see the POWER of SpokePOV, I’m putting screen-grabs from the software head to head with pictures I took of my wheel spinning in my apartment. To take the picture, I used my iPhone4 with the LongExpoFree app in the LightTrail setting.
Not bad! I think the first one looks more like cauliflower. The second one is a cross-section (s l i c e !) I like the slice better.
The reason for this velodrome vivisection is that I am finally booked for the DARPA EEG thing. The ongoing direct contractual process is removed from me, thankfully, but I did get a PO this week from the lead company and have already begun work. The hardware will be built around Texas Instruments ADS1299 which is, in so many ways, an EEG system-on-a-chip. There will be lots more details to come, but the best part is that it allows very fine control of the metal. You get gain control, all the channel inputs are thoroughly multiplexed, high common-mode rejection, and simultaneous sampling. The interface sits on a high-speed SPI bus. It is a very sensitive sensor! It will be great for reading EEG, but that’s not all. EMG and ECG and other biopotentials are easy pickings. Any really really tiny electric potential can be measured by this thing. The chip has Eight separate channels that can be measured separately, or in relation to each other. Simultaneously. And, you can daisy-chain multiple chips together to get more channels. HA!
All of the designs and firmware will be open source and the initial focus will be on Arduino compatibility. You may have noticed that we are living through multiple revolutions at once, and one of them is The Open Hardware Movement which has leveraged the design and spirit of Arduino into a Mass Movement of Makers. The ‘footprint’ of Arduino is widely mimicked by Shields (add on boards, or daughter cards) and other devices wishing to play in the Arduino space. Happily enough, a few ARMs are now available with the same Arduino form factor. I’m planning libraries for the DUE, Maple, FreedomBoard, and others that cross my path.
As this thing moves forward, I’ll have a more structured interface for comments/suggestions/spam. Until then, please be patient in waiting a response. Or just email me, I’m not hard to find.
This is not a one man show. I am grateful to have some very talented friends. Thanks to Luke, my summer intern/slave. And Conor of the Brain Interface Lab, my go-to-BCI-guy.
Let the Summer of Brains begin!
Took the dog up to Harriman for a little run around. Lots of use! And a large group of folks picking trash and touching up the blazes on Long Path. I entered on Lake Welch drive, intending to go the parking area just past Little Long Pond and hike an area I haven’t been to since last fall, but the 106 was closed at the Kanawauke Circle. Instead, I parked on a pull out where Long Path and 106 cross. Here’s some highlights. Lake Askoti empties into lake Skannatati via this spillway. This is all Tropical Storm Andrea water.
This is Pine Swamp. More like Pine Pond, with all of the water from Andrea. You can hear the frogs are lovin’ it!
In other news, I’m part of a team that won a DARPA competition earlier this year! Our objective is to ‘Develop a portable, inexpensive, and easy-to-use electroencephalography (EEG) device and corresponding mobile application (app) for use by nontraditional audiences. The product will provide real-time, quantitative assessments of neural activity, utilizing display and analyses platforms people already own.’ Needless to say, I’m very excited. We will be starting as soon as we get under contract with the government. I am a support contractor for the principal contract holder, which is a company called Creare. My role will be to design the hardware (PCBs) and get the basic interface up and running. Other members of the team are a Neurologist and company that designs and manufactures sensing electrodes. I will be working closely with Conor Russomanno, who I know through teaching him at Parsons. Conor is spearheading the BIL (Brain Interface Lab).
Most fun part of all of this is the DARPA mandate that the whole project be open sourced to the community. That’s also a big part of my job, to reach out with outreach to the open source hardware and software communities. Also, I will be in charge of commercializing whatever we come up with. Be prepared for a summer of brains!!
There’s a bunch of stuff going on this spring. First, Deborah and I moved. With our cat, Petit, and our dog Sascha. We moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I know, that’s the wrong direction, but we’re innovators, and I’m already loving the location (Union Square/Gramercy) and convenience. April will be a time of nesting.
Also the group I”m with in the Pfizer building, QO Working, is expanding! We’re gaining about 700 square feet of space, which now looks like this.
Right now it has that giant ‘collapsing’ shelf system. Plan is to turn it into a shared fabrication/electronics lab. I’ll document the process as it develops. Likely getting a start on the demo this Friday.
This just in. Scientists at Harvard and Caltech have animated a small slab of silicone with rat heart-muscle to create Medusoid. Absolutely beautiful.
Adam Frelin’s artwork is inspiring. This happened at a quarry in upstate NY last weekend.
Here’s a picture that will give you a sense of the fire’s scale. They burned 250 pallets on a graded cliff in the quarry. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. Adam likens it to watching heat lightning, or snow falling. I think it’s beautiful.