EEG headsets are a step into what could be a very cool future where we can control the objects that surround us without even having to lift a finger. The headsets themselves work by sensing the electrical activity inside a person’s brain. This is done by a technique called electroencephalography (EEG). EEG works by placing electrodes on the surface of someone’s head and these will measure the electrical signals produced by the brain’s neurons.
Sometimes described as a gimmick to allow people to control technology like your TV, in truth the development of EEG for use in industry is actually a massive step forward for science and technology. Whether it’s used for leisure or for more practical reasons, here are some of the ways industries are using EEG:
1: Testing Human Behaviour
Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves
For scientists, one major problem when it comes to scientific tests that involve human participation is the fact that people tend to be economical with the truth. We lie and we exaggerate, often subconsciously, meaning that accurate data is almost impossible. EEG headsets however can monitor the brain waves of individuals to reveal exactly which parts of their brain are being used in certain situations. The study ‘Your Brain On Poker’ used EEG headsets to reveal the differences in brain activity between amateur and professional poker players. The visualised brain maps revealed key differences in human behaviour including that experts show higher levels of engagement, rely on logic and have more control over their emotions than beginners.
2: Creating Music
DJ Fresh & Mindtunes: A track created only by the mind (Documentary)
Forget the latest Taylor Swift single, what about music that’s been created by the mind alone? In 2013, drinks company Smirnoff produced a documentary that showed DJ Fresh create a music track alongside people who are paralyzed, using the power of the mind. Connected to EEG headsets, the musicians were able to translate their brain waves into sound waves.
3: Diagnosing Concussions
Diagnosing concussions is notoriously difficult, mainly due to the fact that there is currently no proper way to tell if a person is suffering from a concussion. Instead, doctors and health professionals need to rely on the signs and symptoms of a patient. Even a CT scan (which can rule out other serious complications of a head trauma) cannot detect a concussion. An undetected concussion can be very dangerous, particularly in sports like American football or wrestling where frequent concussions over the years are thought to cause serious problems such as CTE.
One Maryland based company, BrainScope, are seeking to create a simple test using EEG headsets in order to go beyond the information given by a CT scan in order to diagnose concussions accurately.
4: Controlling Prosthetic Limbs
The research team at the University of Houston have developed a prosthetic arm that can be controlled using EEG. An amputee who tested the prosthetic was successfully able to grasp objects using only his thoughts and as this technology develops there is a distinct possibility that those living with limb loss might one day be able to use fully functioning bionic limbs.
5: Controlling Games
EEG headsets are still establishing themselves in the world of gaming but aren’t quite good enough to overthrow our trusty controller. Still, the prospect of what they hold for the future of the gaming industry is pretty exciting. Currently, the headsets have been used by players to make simple commands such as faster, slower and turn left/right using the power of the mind and earlier this year the headsets were used for the first mind controlled drone race.