The Feasibility of Consumer Grade EEG Devices as Computer Input

Avi Goldberg


Electroencephalography (EEG) is a technology that records electrical brain activity through electrodes, and outputs signals that can then be used for a variety of applications. Although EEG has been used in research and clinically for decades, user friendly, consumer-affordable (~$100), non-invasive EEG devices have only been on the market for the last two to three years. Many applications have been developed using consumer-grade EEG, mostly along the lines of "biofeedback,” where the goal is to achieve and maintain brainwave activity in a desirable state for an extended period; for example, success is often marked by the shifting of a user's brain activity towards a relaxed or meditative state and holding it there for as long as possible. Such unidirectional control is useful for cognitive and emotional response training, but falls short of allowing user- directed control analogous to devices such as knobs and joysticks, e.g., allowing a user to intentionally manipulate and regulate such devices bi- or multi-directionally via thought control. Such a manipulable EEG control would be highly beneficial for medical applications, such as improved computer interfaces and/or control of prostheses for people with disabilities, in addition to lifestyle applications, such as gaming and music performance and production. This study serves as a proof-of-concept and preliminary exploration of the viability of various techniques for the use of consumer-grade EEG devices as a control input that can be manipulated by the user, having concluded that a significant majority of users report being able to control the cursor, and appear to be able to move the cursor in the direction indicated by the test software.


Electroencephalography; EEG computer input; brain-computer interface

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