EEG sensors are no longer giant $10,000 devices. They’re now so small that they can be used to monitor everyday activities—and perform a couple of neat party tricks.
While exploring the demo area of a health conference this summer, I came across a small table where a handful of people wearing headsets and intently watching videos were sitting. An employee offered me a seat, rubbed some saline solution on my scalp, and placed one of the portable EEG devices on my head, adjusting its 14 tentacle-like sensors so that they could read my detailed brain activity. After watching a series of short videos, I received my “personality test” results via email, all based on how an EEG machine interpreted my engagement with the different videos.
I was using one of the most basic functions of the Emotiv EPOC, a brain-computer interface that detects movement, emotion, facial expression, and head rotation—a series of measurements that make it possible for people to do activities with their minds, such as control video games and toys or move robots that aid in physical rehab.