Imec and Holst Centre Showcase Comfortable EEG Headset for Consumer Applications

Aug 24, 2015 - Today, Holst Centre, imec and Delft University of Technology, announced the introduction of a new wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) headset that fits comfortably and achieves a high quality EEG signal. The headset enables affective brain-computer interfacing and can monitor emotions and mood in daily life situations using a smart phone application. 

Wireless technology that measures body parameters has become increasingly popular in lifestyle applications. Imec and Holst Centre aim to extend the functionality toward consumer applications as well as true healthcare monitoring wearables. To realize this, they develop headsets that combine medical-grade data acquisition with more comfort. Imec's wireless EEG headsets with dry electrodes are easy to apply and enable long-term daily life monitoring. Such headsets can be used in consumer applications such as games that monitor relaxation, engagement and concentration. Wireless headsets can also be used for attention training, sleep training and treatment of AD/HD.

 

Designing a wireless EEG headset with dry electrodes presents several technical challenges, such as finding a balance between comfort and signal quality. To ensure good signal quality, the dry electrodes must be applied to the head with sufficient pressure. This becomes especially critical when the measurement is done over longer periods of time. It is also very important to retain this balance over a large number of people with different head sizes and shapes. However, increasing the pressure comes at the price of user discomfort, as was experienced in formers version of imec and Holst Centre's EEG headsets.

 

Imec and Holst Centre's new headset manages to get the right balance between comfort and signal quality. This was achieved by a design procedure in which prototyping and testing were iterated in very short loops, in order to optimize shape and stiffness. The EEG headset is manufactured in one piece using 3D printing techniques, after which the electronic components are applied and covered by a 3D-printed rubber inlay. The sensors that acquire the EEG signal are situated at the front of the headset. This location is selected for optimal EEG signal acquisition related to emotion and mood variations. The mobile app relates the user's emotional state to environmental information such as agenda, location, proximity to others and time of day, in order to provide feedback about the (unconscious) effects of the environment on the users emotions, thus creating awareness and actionable new insights.

 

"Leveraging imec's strong background in EEG sensing, dry polymer and active electrodes, miniaturized and low-power data acquisition, and low power wireless interfaces to smart phones, we were able to focus on the ergonomic design elements of this project. In doing so, we have successfully realized this unique combination and at the lowest possible cost," stated Bernard Grundlehner, EEG system architect at imec.

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