Monday, February 3, 2014

Visualising mind activity with a hacked toy EEG

Posted by rinson

Visualising mind activity with a hacked toy EEG

The MindFlex toy includes a headset that reads EEG wave data. There's lots of information on hacking this toy to create a simple EEG machine using the limited data the headset provides by default. In this project I have extracted the full RAW EEG data using the same toy headset from the MindFlex game.
Update: I've posted an update to this blog, where I provide details of how to extract the full RAW EEG data from the MindFlex headset.
Friendly Warning and Disclaimer: Hack your toys at your own risk. I'm not responsible for any damage you do to yourself or your belongings. This information is provided here for information and education only. If you use the original hack and just use the data available in normal mode then the MindFlex still works as a game as originally intended. If you enable RAW EEG output then you break the toy!

Reading brain waves

An obvious place for us to start on this project might have been with the excellent OpenEEG project, but while being open, it still has substantial costs and complexity in getting up and running. For this project we looked for a simpler approach.
EEG technology has been incorporated into various toys and household items before. There are various commercial options available based on NeuroSky's ThinkGear chip.
The original Frontier Nerds blog post from 2010 provides a great starting point, but I've made a few changes along the way, including successfully extracting the RAW EEG values from the MindFlex toy.

Budget EEG with the TGAM1

The TGAM1 is the controller board responsible for processing the EEG signals in all of the products based on the NeuroSky ThinkGear chip. NeuroSky no longer sell the boards in small quantities (I've had confirmation of this from their business development team that this is due to support resources) and instead recommend that you buy the BrainWave starter kit. This is probably a good idea if you want easy access to EEG data, but they are still over 100 GBP to buy in the UK, and the toys are available for only 40.