If you can’t wait until next year to get your hands on a Project Epoc EEG cap, never fear: a German company called g.tec (Guger Technologies) is now offering the world’s first commercially available brain computer interface (BCI).
g.MOBIlab is a light-weight biological signal acquisition and analysis system. The EEG cap records the electrical activity of the brain, which is amplified and sent, either wirelessly by Bluetooth or via the USB port, to a desktop PC, notebook or pocket PC running signal analysis software. With training, the signals can be used to compose and send messages or play computer games.
There’s also an invasive version, which is still in the experimental stages. This uses electrocorticography instead – electrical activity from the premotor and motor cortices is recorded by a microelectrode array implanted into the surface of the brain.
The system can record eye movements, pulse, respiration and galvanic skin response, and also comes with an electrocardiograph and electromyograph (for measuring the electrical activity of the heart and muscle, respectively). It has been nominated for the 2007 European ICT Grand Prize.
This short film clip shows the system being used to navigate a computer character through a virtual environment. (Incidentally, the clip was produced by Mel Slater, a computer scientist at UCL, who is using virtual reality for social psychological studies that would otherwise be too unethical.)