Fun with brainwaves, part 1

For years, I’ve been interested in human brainwaves, especially the possibility of using nonlinear dynamics (“chaos theory”) to analyze them. But affordable EEG devices simply have not been available. Back in the early 90s, I built a little device from a kit, but the data had only 6-bit resolution, and there were issues with signal-to-noise ratio, so I didn’t make any progress.

But now, we have Emotiv, a company that intends to bring high-resolution brainwave data to the desktop. Their first consumer-grade neuroheadsets rolled off the assembly line and shipped last week, and I was fortunate enough to receive mine on Tuesday. So here’s a little tour of what we know so far.

The device arrived from the Philippines in a compact box. Shipping had been delayed by Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon to hit Taiwan in recorded history.

Here’s how it shipped:

Packaging for Epoc neuroheadset.

Packaging for Emotiv’s Epoc neuroheadset.

Here’s a shot with the cat, for scale:

Packaging for Epoc neuroheadset, with Lord Azrael.

The neuroheadset packaging, with Lord Azrael for scale. We didn’t name him.

The Epoc device peeks out of its packaging. Very Videodrome:

Epoc neuroheadset in packaging. 

Epoc neuroheadset peeks out of its packaging.

Here it is, fully revealed:

Epoc neuroheadset in packaging. 

Epoc neuroheadset, one of the first off the assembly line.

And now for a gratuitous montage of movies that inspired me to go down this path.


James Woods gets up close and personal with the Videodrome signal. Ralph Fiennes deals in illegal virtual experiences. Okay, I couldn’t find a shot of the cool headset.

Christopher Walken records human experiences, featuring the famous “orgasm loop.”

 Mind Snatchers

A younger Christopher Walken gets a dose of early-70s mind-control technology.


It took some figuring out, but we finally got the neuroheadset on the the right way. Okay, it was my wife who said we had it on backward. YOU WERE RIGHT, HONEY

Jim Galasyn wears the neuroheadset for the first time. Photo: Isobel Alexander

My friend Scott applies the saline solution to the electrodes. Liberally.

In Part 2: A WPF client for realtime Epoc headset data!

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