In the run-up to the hackathon we hosted at ThoughtWorks I quizzed Conor on the purpose of OpenBCI. I think his answers bear repeating here.
First, what is OpenBCI?
"OpenBCI is a new open-source initiative. Our mission is to promote brain-computer interface (BCI) research in a transparent atmosphere, by putting the technology in the hands of the people. We have built a BCI prototyping platform that is entirely open and supported by a growing community of hardware and software engineers and makers."
Why OpenBCI, why now?
"OpenBCI has no proprietary algorithms. The barrier of entry is slightly higher than existing commercial BCIs because the software frameworks are still in their infancy. That said, as the open-source community adopts OpenBCI, we hope that the barrier of entry rapidly broadens, allowing makers of all skill levels to begin doing research and development surrounding the human brain and body."
"Primarily, we are trying to lower the barrier of entry into research-grade EEG. OpenEEG is an amazing initiative, but the platform can be a bit intimidating to newcomers. Most contributors to the OpenEEG project are well-versed in electrical engineering and have the aptitude and/or training to get down and dirty with datasheets and circuit diagrams. With OpenBCI we are looking to provide the open-source community with more flexibility than commercial devices like NeuroSky & Emotiv (which have fixed electrode configurations), while at the same time keeping the barrier of entry low."
"In a sense, we want to create the Arduino of BCIs. Arduino made electronics prototyping easy and accessible for everyone from electrical engineers to grade school kids. It's our hope that OpenBCI does the same thing, but for synthesizing the digital signals of the human body. The OpenBCI hardware that is going to be kickstarted will most likely have an integrated microchip, making OpenBCI a programmable BCI with no set electrode configuration - a perfect tool to let the open-source community figure out what non-invasive BCIs are capable of."
"I hope that clarifies our mission a bit."
Yes, it does. Thanks!