The New Scientist Tech Blog has an interesting article on a new prototype EEG machine that, like all others, is designed to read electrical activity from the brain. The novelty is that it is totally enclosed in an earphones-like headset and is solar-powered. Apparently, it also generates power from the body’s own heat.
The new headset can generate at least 1 milliWatt of power in most circumstances. That is more than the 0.8mW needed to detect electrical activity observed in the brain, and transmit it over wifi to a computer.
“Using both power sources, you get twice as much power, so it’s roughly half the size,” say Chris van Hoof, also of IMEC, comparing the new headset to the previous device.
Van Hoof says small, preclinical trials show the headset collects data identical to those of EEGs used in hospitals. The portable headset should provide a look at the brain in environments it has not been studied in before.
This looks like it builds on research that has been going on at Imperial College in London on low power technology for ‘wearable cognition systems’.
The ‘cognition’ bit is only likely to be very approximate to what psychologists think of as cognitive processes (as we discussed previously), but I suspect the trick will be developing new applications for the technology, rather than using the technology to try and replace the precision of already existing systems.
A paper on the technology was recently published by the Imperial team. Unfortunately, I can’t find the full-text online but the summary itself is well-worth a read.