Friday, December 18, 2009

Brace Yourselves, it is Coming...

2 New Examples of BCIs and their Possibilities with Music

Mix-It-Yourself with a Brain-Computer Music Interface

This is a project developed by E R Miranda and V Soucaret at the University of Plymouth, UK. In past, this pair of developers has created a generative music BCI (Brain Computer Interface) controlled by EEG. Although it was successful, they found it to be too expensive and too complicated to implement with current music software.

Their goal with 'mix it yourself' was to create a BCI that is relatively low in cost and easy to implement with available music software. They chose a simple 4 channel EEG amplifier and music software known as Reason. 3 tracks were created in Reason: a rhythm track, a piano solo track and a guitar solo track. Their software measured both alpha and beta brain waves and controlled Reason on the strength of these waves. If alpha was more prominent, the piano track volume was increased and the guitar track volume was decreased. If beta was more prominent, the reverse took place. Once this system was calibrated to an individual, the developers found that the subject was able to control the piano and guitar volumes at will.

In the same paper, the developers also describe a system of melodic creation through EEG analysis. By assigning a note to each electrode (14 electrodes in all) they were able to create melodies based on which electrode had the highest EEG power at any given time.

Both of these systems are arbitrary. Alpha and beta brain waves really have no known correlation with guitar and piano, and certain areas of increased activity on the scalp have no know correlation to any notes. As brain activity measurement increases in accuracy and associations between brain activity and actual thought becomes more known, these experiments will prove to be the predecessors to highly sophisticated BCIs.

Emotiv Systems

This video is amazing and will convince you that BCIs are the future. Tan Le discusses and demonstrates the technology her R&D team at Emotiv has developed. Emotiv is a company that builds consumer-based BCIs. It works on 3 principals: facial expression detection, emotional response detection and mind state capturing. Capturing one's mind states is perhaps the most advanced of the three technologies. Watch the video to see a man with the Emotive device control a cube on a computer screen. With his mind and some training with the software, he is quickly able to rotate a cube on screen counter-clockwise and make the cube disappear.

Their product is available to all RIGHT NOW, for only $299! Many developers are already using it to create video games that are controlled by mind alone. I can think of many ways it could be used to control music software and in fact, there are developers discussing how to use emotive with the popular program Max MSP. Check out this topic on the Emotiv discussion forums entitled Using Emotiv to control musical instruments....

Oh, and one last 'bonus' link: The first tweet sent by brain power alone!

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