Reading the mind, telekinesis, moving the objects with brain waves may not sound scientific at all. But now, thanks to the devices that can read the brain waves that you can easily order from the internet, we can do many things that seem impossible until now.

Throughout the ages, people search for ways to communicate with computers via mouse, joysticks, keyboards, microphones, touch screens. But all these interfaces are based on moving the muscle system. The situation does not always have to be this way. Sometimes, an unexpected measurement can lead to the emergence of data that we are not aware of. At that time, invisible data, such as brain waves, allow the game industry to intervene in machinery through object control.

The discovery of brain waves dates back to 1924, but it is a strange experience that Hans Berger lived in the very beginning that drifted towards this curiosity. Hans Berger decides to leave the school during astronomy training and start a military base. One day, when training with the horsemen, Berger’s horse rattles and falls dangerously precisely in front of the ball. Though he does not suffer any serious harm, while trying to get away from the shock of the incident, his sister who is far away insists that he is in danger and sends a telegram to his father. Berger is more influenced by his sister’s intuitions and starts to have a keen interest in telepathy.

Thus, in 1897 he completed his doctorate at Jena University and in 1906 became a professor and head of the university psychiatry and neurology clinic. It measures the human brain for a long time and finds ways to reach a healthy heart. In 1924, Hans Berger succeeded in obtaining the first EEG (electroencephalography) recordings from the human brain, and through these records he discovered the presence of more than one wave in his brain. Berger first finds the alpha frequency between 8 and 12 Hz, which he relieves and closes his eyes. This wave is also known as the Berger Waves.

Berger’s first recorder is quite primitive. To be able to register, it is necessary to place silver wires on the skulls of the patients, which is a rather cumbersome method. Today these wires are transformed into much more advanced receivers. Berger links these silver receivers to the Lippmann Capillary Electrometer, but he can not reach the desired results. The Siemens galvanometer, which is later on the market, starts to squeeze into the glazed gates when the voltage becomes more precise, such as one in 10,000. Berger uses the obtained data to analyze patients suffering from brain damage. However, for the simple interactions, the full use of brain waves finds the 1970s. It is the American government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which is most interested in the issue of brain-wave control. Visions are the ability to manipulate machines with brain waves during military missions. Therefore, one of the most investors in this area is ARPA.

What is BCI (Brain Computer Interfaces)?

BCI (Brain Computer Interfaces), the name given to devices that can communicate between brain waves and machines. Thus, the signals produced by the brain can be easily analyzed by pattern and classification. However, it is necessary to wait for advanced computers to enter the history in order to understand the interrelationship of 100 billion nerve cells in his brain or to imitate the mind’s working principles.

Jacques J. Vidal, professor of Computer Science at the University of California at Los Angeles, who demonstrated that in 1973, when he first used the concept of Brain Computer Interface, he could perceive EEG signals and analyze through patterns. Vidal has designed a system that analyzes the EEG signals and gives commands to move the computer over the given data.

In the 1970s, serious research into brain-computer interfaces with the support of the National Science Foundation (UCLA) and DARPA at the University of California Los Angeles (California) began. Reading brainwaves is a promising method, especially for those who experience hearing, speech, or movement disorders. The ability of the brain to respond to later-installed recipients and adaptability through plasticity allows the brain to maintain its natural processes, allowing the field to develop rapidly. The use of neuroprosthetic devices (prosthetic devices placed in the brain) in the human brain finds the 1990s.

Monkeys are controlling robotic arms…

To stimulate motor cortex neurons that control motor behavior, the functions of the brain must also be discovered. For this reason, the need for interdisciplinary historical development is inevitable when approaching the brain. In the 1980s, Professor Apostolos Georgopoulos, the director of John Hopkins University Cognitive Science Center, conducted a number of experiments on motor cortex on rhesus monkeys. The aim is to find the mathematical relationship between motor cortex neurons and electrical responses of apes. Georgopoulos reveals that the directions of moving the arms of the apes are in fact dependent on a cosine function. It is also the first scientist to suggest that motor behavior is controlled by neuron groups scattered in different regions of the brain, although the period allows for technical possibilities to be recorded from a single region of the brain.

When it comes to the 1990s, work on theBCI also accelerates. Both technological possibilities and the empowerment of the brain make significant advances in motor behavior and the discovery of vision systems. California Institute of Technology Neuroscience Professor Richard Andersen, Brown University Neuroscience Professor John Donoghue, Neural Signals Inc. Philip Kennedy, the founder and manager of the company, research groups founded by Brazilian scientist Miguel Nicolelis and the University of Minnesota Neurobiology professor Andrew Schwartz, who stand out with the idea of ​​’reading monkey thought’, work on different groups of neurons that control complex motor behavior. Philip Kennedy and his colleagues succeed in creating the first intracortical brain-computer interface with the electrodes they place on the monkeys. Inspired by these studies, professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Yang Dan and his colleagues found neuron counterparts in the brain of visual processing in 1999 experiments on the cat. With the electrodes placed in the ‘thalamus’ region, which is defined as one of the centers of perception, 177 brain cells achieve very important results about how the signals from the retina work. During the experiment, neuron firing of short-filmed cats is recorded. The team using mathematical filters decrypts the passwords of the moving objects and identifiable scenes they see.

Similar results on humans are based on the work of Japanese researcher Miguel Nicolelis. Placing multiple electrodes in a large area of ​​the brain, Nicolelis aims to find out the meaning of the signals and what they represent. Nicolelis and his colleagues, who made their first studies on rats, are the team that made up the first brain-computer interfaces that monkeys could control robotic arms. Their work allows them to easily control their robot arms using advanced hand techniques for capturing and reaching monkeys.

BCI: How it works

The BCI is made possible by EEG devices that use receivers capable of reading signals transmitted by the brain. There are two kinds of communication in his brain; Chemical and electrical. Both have traceable effects and it is also possible to obtain this data via the devices. TheBCI is interested in the electrical movements in the brain, and it is possible that these electrical states are triggered by the action potentials of the neurons and transmitted through the axons. Sensors placed on the skull can detect this electrical activity in the brain. However, the identification of these signals is of course not sufficient for an EEG data to be actively used in an interface. The brain is a noise pool. The data obtained from electrical activities is not as predicted as the accuracy and clarity of a photographic machine. On the contrary, it is very likely to encounter difficult and difficult loud waves to read. For this reason, scientists have developed various methods in order to process and read the signals. These methods, called pattern identification and classification, can also be considered as a preliminary process. Once the brain data signal is received, the patterns in this information are identified and various algorithms developed over the years are applied to resolve the collected data. Thus, the brain waves can be converted into a recognizable data and can be used through various interfaces.

Brain Waves

EEG devices read brain waves according to their frequency range. These frequencies are;

Delta (up to 4 Hz): It is the slow wave sleep in adults and the brain waves that babies usually ejaculate. Some have also been observed in continuous attention tests.

Teta (4 – 7 Hz): It occurs in cases of discomfort and arousal. It can also be defined as the brain in idle mode.

Alpha (8 – 12 Hz): Occurs in relaxation and reflection. By closing their eyes, the brain begins to spread alpha waves. It is the brain waves that the patients who are pathologically coma are carrying.

Beta (12 – 30 Hz): Occurs when stimulation and work. Excited, busy, wave frequencies that propagate in active concentration states.

Gamma (30 – 100+ Hz): Occurs in the moment of cross-perception. For example, sound and visual perception are used together.

Mu (8 – 13 Hz): Associated with mirror neurons. It occurs when the motor neurons relax. Suppression of mu waves is thought to be of interest to autism.

Robotic Control with Brainwaves

There are times when the 2000s have developed interfaces where monkeys can reach a foodservice using a control line. Thanks to the BBA running on real-time or over the Internet protocol, monkeys are able to move the robot arm as desired even if the moving arm is not seeing or receiving any feedback. This means that the first examples of open-loop BBA models have emerged. Jose Carmena and his colleagues, especially Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, have brought a groundbreaking era in brain computer interfaces through the use of apes’ neural programming that allows them to access and understand desired objects using robot arms. Mikhail Lebedev, who worked as a researcher at the Department of Neurobiology at Duke University in the same period, also reported that a much newer robotics era was on the way to reading brain nets and lips.

One of the most distressing aspects of BBA technology is that receivers lack reliable, accurate, and robust information about the brain signals. Even the change of human metabolism is sufficient to affect the data of these signals. Therefore, it is envisaged that in the next 20 years much stronger receivers will be produced and new communication methods will be developed using BBAs. But for now, we can talk about two different devices that come out of the laboratory and reach the consumption of the people; Emotiv Epoc and Neurosky Mindset.

Emotiv Systems: Epoc Headset 

Emotiv Systems is an Australian based company working on Brain Computer Interfaces using EEG technology. In 2003, he was founded by neuroscientific professor Alan Snyder, chip designer Neil Weste and technology entrepreneur Tan Le. Epoc’s science-fiction film-like design, which has been put forward as a groundbreaking technology for the gaming industry in particular, belongs to 4Design, a Sydney-based Industrial Products Design. It is also possible to develop an open source application for Epoc, a device with the ability to detect facial movements and 4 different waves of the brain.

Epoc has 14 electrodes (19 on the standard medical EEG device) and a gyroscope to measure head movements. The most troubling aspect of the device is that you need to exercise for a while in order to be able to adapt to your thoughts. Epoc can get different data in different categories. These;

Conscientious Thoughts: You are thinking about 12 different moves. These are 6 different directional movements, right, left, down, up, forward and close; Clockwise, counterclockwise, right, left, forward and backward. It also has the ability to identify the visual signal by reading Mu (μ) frequencies (the wavelength between 8-13hz).
Emotions: Epoc can also measure feelings like excitement, distress, meditation, frustration. Although the names of feelings can not describe the situation in a clear way, for now, it is among the definitions of the system as a strong claim. There is no evidence of such an implementation by the company yet.
Facial Movements: Reading facial movements is made possible by the detection of movements of the facial muscles of the EEG recipients, not by the reading of the brain waves. Epoc can detect movements such as eyebrow and eyelash positions, eye movements in the horizontal plane, smile, laugh, face squealing and grinning. Emotiv Systems is thinking about adding more facial expressions in the next version.
Head Movements: The ability to read the rotation of the head is not among the capabilities of the device yet. Metering can be done mostly on the head of the head and on the spot. This is due to a built-in crossover in the Epoc.
Among the things you can do with Emotiv’s Epoc technology is, in fact, a world beyond our guess. Although they are focused on the gaming industry, they have already made a number of experiments, including those who use the device to make music, circulate through their photos, and dim the lights of their surroundings. Therefore, the ability to perform a variety of experiments using brain waves has now reached our homes. Moreover, a very serious scientific infrastructure is not required for this. Apart from Emotiv Systems, there is another company that is trying to make a name in the carving sector by measuring 2 different waves of the brain alone; NeuroSky.

NeuroSky; MindSet

NeuroSky’s Mindset technology, despite the fact that it has a much simpler design and technology as opposed to Emotiv, today announced a much faster pace in the market thanks to its combination with the big game company. Especially, the ‘Star Wars Force Trainer’, which the device produces under the Star Wars brand and applies the measurement for the constancy between the alpha and beta waves, has already begun to take the place of the new generation of children.

NeuroSky is a California-based BBA company founded in San Jose by Stanley Yang in 2004. There are a lot of people working on it, from business people, engineers, scientists to researchers. The aim is to create a device that can be bought at very affordable prices using EEG technology and to enter the game and toy sector to offer a new alternative interface to a new generation of children instead of “joysticks”. For now, they do not consider selling their products directly to the public. Instead, they are directed to product developers and licensed software applications. But it is possible to reach this product through two different toys that they go to the market.

Mindset, from media artists to game developers, is now a new player. Tansy Brooks, Communications Director of Naurosky, explained the working principles of this technology, its future objectives and the future of the BBA.

How does MindSet work?

ThinkGear is a technology inside all NeuroSky products that can read brain waves. The receiver consists of a receiver, an integrated chip that processes the data, and a headphone that receives the reference area of ​​the ears. Neurosky, named “eSenses” for attention and meditation situations, can read raw brain waves thanks to the ThinkGear chip.

ThinkGear’s eSenses algorithms work by taking into account the attention and meditation levels of the user’s brain waves and converting the information they receive into a digital signal. Afterwards, the signals can be transferred to various devices, usually computers. MindSet, the interface for the whole system to work, also has the ability to transmit raw brain wave data (including muscle movements). This type of data includes all wave lengths (alpha, beta, tetra, gamma) detected by an EEG device and is often used by product developers.

MindSet uses the Bluetooth serial protocol to communicate with the computer, allowing product developers to develop applications for computers and other devices.

How does Neurosky assess the future of the BBA?

In the future, the BBA will be integrated into our everyday life and will enable us to control our surrounding devices with our minds. The machines will help us to mentalize our feelings and emotions and help us learn a lot more about ourselves or our minds. NeuroSky intends to carry out serious work in health, education, automotive, security, games and toys over the next 10 years. We are trying to integrate BBA into new devices with our partners. For example, consider yourself back home late and sleeping on the road while you are using your car. In such a case, your car may begin to perceive that you are tired and sleepy and pull yourself to the side of the road and give an alarm. In the future, there will be very few industries that are not affected by the power of the BBA.

How far do you plan to move forward with this technology in the future?

It’s impossible to know without doing something. Especially if you have such a technology in your hands. We are constantly confronted by partners from a new researcher or new industry, and they all have incredible ideas to apply our technology. We provide a technology platform and work with partner companies that are experts in their own products. For example, Mattel in toys, Toshiba in consumer electronics, and Square Enix in the gaming industry.

What disciplines do people work in NeuroSky?

Engineers, researchers, marketers and salespeople. We are a more engineering oriented company.

What are the challenges of NeuroSky and the neuroscience market?

The biggest challenge for us is to try to solve the problem of being able to use the sensor dry without using gel. It is also the greatest challenge to filter out the noise in your brain and achieve a cleaner heart. Of course, we tried to create an algorithm that could be used by everyone, not just experts. The difficulties we may face in the future may be to add algorithms that give much greater opportunity to product developers without neuroscientific knowledge. It may also be trying to make the receiver on the device more perfect and transform it into a user-friendly but multi-receiver product. We are very fast and progressing for now and we are planning to announce these innovations next year. It’s difficult for people to understand exactly because it’s a technology at the tip. People are more preoccupied with digital devices and the brain is analogue in this sense. For example, when we went to Matterflex for the first time, people did not want to believe that the device read brain waves. Because such a thing is almost impossible for them, even the idea seems to be magic. But as the product became widespread, everyone got to try it and it became convinced that such a thing was possible. It is very important for us to communicate to see the capabilities and limits of our technology, so that we can make meaningful steps to move forward.