PhysOrg is sending out the call, as the Pentagon prepares to team up with brain-tech DIYers:
[…A]t the Maker Faire in New York, a new low-cost EEG recording front end was debuted at DARPA’s booth. Known as OpenBCI, the device can process eight channels of high quality EEG data, and interface it to popular platforms like Arduino. Arduinos are ideal devices because there is a huge developer community that provides, among other things, “shields” which plug right in to the Arduino boards to add functionality. An Arduino is also easy to program with an intuitive language that does not require tedious assembly-level knowledge. Furthermore, additional analysis functions are provided by increasing popular Processing software development environment.
DARPA program manager William Casebeer said that his goal was to return next year to the Maker meeting with a device that costs under $30. Other low cost projects they are funding include 3D printed electrodes by a startup called S12, and wireless sensors made by Cognionics. Devices that can be readily interfaced to smartphones and tablets, like Design Interactive’s headset are also a priority. There are no doubt many important motivations behind DARPA’s interest in DIY. At $30 a pop, a headset on every head, or at least at every desk, may soon become a no-brainer.
The citizen scientist now has center stage. While trying to figure out what is going on inside the skull with simple EEG electrodes has its limits, the resourcefulness of those seeking to penetrate it have none. However without medical legitimacy, there are some practical considerations regarding what one might do—at least safely. The DIY brain hackers, or grinders as they are called, operate in largely uncharted territory. For example, Rich Lee, a pioneer and advocate for DIY deep brain stimulation, has implanted magnets in his fingers and ears to provide both supernumerary touch sensitivity and supplemental auditory streams. What do the powers that be think about the path where these kinds of experiments lead?