NOTE: This post was originally created for Neurdon — a site created by a few nerds in my department (myself included) that is dedicated to neuroscience and technology. Visit Neurdon if you are indeed awesome.
A few months ago, a neuromarketing firm, NeuroFocus, announced to the world the first wireless full brain coverage dry EEG cap — Mynd. The heavens parted and the brain-computer interface (BCI) community bowed before this humble offering of EEG cap which doth not requireth copious amounts of electrode goo. And it was good.
Engadget was one of the first to pick up NeuroFocus’ press release, prompting quite the conversation in the comments section with plenty of unnecessarily snark words being written on the topic. Several folks wanted to know what all the fuss was about and how Mynd was any different than the Emotiv Epoc or MindWave headsets. Well, the primary difference is electrode real estate. The Epoc and MindWave caps measure primarily EMG (i.e., muscle signals) and not brain signals, meaning they are more for show and kind of prey on the general public’s lack of neuroscience knowledge by saying things like “control things with your MIND!” Bogus. For the most part. The few electrodes that do exist on the Epoc are in all the wrong places for any sort of useful BCI! It’s infuriating, really. Here you have this beautiful EEG headset that would be a splendid option for controlling things on a screen, but it lacks proper 10-20 system electrode placement over motor or visual cortical regions of the brain. Electrodes over these brain areas are critical for doing imagined movement tasks or steady-state visually-evoked potentials — both of which are the lion’s share of BCI control output tasks.
So, up until the Mynd cap’s arrival, there was no viable player in the consumer BCI market, leaving most researchers no other option but to use ugly wet electrode EEG caps meant exclusively for lab use only. There are many problems with caps that require insertion of gel into each and every electrode. First, for those of you with hair, you’re not going to sign up for much BCI use if your constantly washing green goo from your goldy locks. Second, that gooey goodness is only good for about an hour’s worth of use. For people with locked-in syndrome or ALS, this is simply not an option if intended to be used in the home on a daily basis.
A price tag for the Mynd headset has not been released yet, but given NeuroFocus’ ability to bridge the gap between marketing and neuroscience, I assume it will be competitively priced. There are also some great people behind the making of this, most notably Robert Knight at UCSD who is both a great speaker as well as a key contributor to the BCI field. So, Bob, (cough, cough) when can I test out one of those Mynd caps?