– These Guys Are Creating a Brain Scanner You Can Print Out at Home (Wired, Jan 13, 2014):
Conor Russomanno and Joel Murphy have a dream: They want to create an open-source brain scanner that you can print out at home, strap onto your head, and hook straight into your brainwaves.
This past week, they printed their first headset prototype on a 3-D printer, and WIRED has the first photos.
Bootstrapped with a little funding help from DARPA — the research arm of the Department of Defense — the device is known as OpenBCI. It includes sensors and a mini-computer that plugs into sensors on a black skull-grabbing piece of plastic called the “Spider Claw 3000,” which you print out on a 3-D printer. Put it all together, and it operates as a low-cost electroencephalography (EEG) brainwave scanner that connects to your PC.
High-grade EEG machines — the kind you’d find in a laboratory — will set you back thousands of dollars. But over the past few years, cheaper models made by companies such as Emotiv and this promises a new era of do-it-yourself brain hackers who take these devices out of the lab, using brainwaves to experiment with games, computer interfaces, personal tracking tools, and self-directed mind enhancement.
But Russomanno and Murphy felt the community needed a completely open-source platform if it was truly going to take off. So they created OpenBCI. You can download the software that powers the headset from GitHub, the popular code sharing site. To build your own system, you buy the hardware from OpenBCI and then download, tweak, and print out the 3D headset.
That gives brain hackers the freedom to put their EEG probes anywhere they like, says Russomanno. “You don’t want to limit yourself to looking to just a few places on the scalp,” he says. “You can target up to 64 locations on the scalp with a maximum of 16 electrodes at a time.”
The rough, low-resolution model of the headset pictured here took about seven hours to print. A high-res version would take about a day, Russomanno says.
But the thing won’t work without the mini-computer that plugs into the headset. Last month, Russomanno and Murphy launched a Kickstarter project to fund the development of this Arduino-compatible hardware. They hit their goal last week and expect to ship their first systems in March.
When the hardware starts shipping, Russomanno expects it to kick off a new round of experimentation. “We’ve got about 300 people that have already donated to receive the board,” he says. “If you’re willing to spend $300 for a piece of technology, you’re definitely going to build something with it.”