What do you think of when you think DIY? Weekend warriors knocking down kitchen walls to make way for new appliances, changing paint color in a kids room, building an outdoor patio to enjoy warm summer nights, or measuring twice and cutting 3 times?
At SXSW, DIY took on a whole new meaning. Imagine citizen neuroscientists building neuroscience labs at home. Thats what Backyard Brains and OpenBCI have in mind. And thats why Im nominating them for Best New Platform.
Backyard Brains designs and sells kits with off-the-shelf electronics that allow students from high school to grad school to design and implement experiments that provide insights into the human nervous system and how it works. They are working with students all over the world, including Chile and Iran, with what is essentially, portable neuroscience. Backyard Brains is famous for the RoboRoach, an experiment where the movements of a cockroach are controlled by a neuro-interface through electrodes placed in its antenna. Check out their TEDEd talk and watch as they astound a group of high-school students with their cockroach beatbox.
Joel Murphy and his group OpenBCI, offer a customizable and fully open-source, brain-computer interface platform. They have designed and produced the OpenBCI microcontroller board, which is capable of sampling the bodys electrical activity (EEG, EMG, ECG, and more). OpenBCIs mission is to provide access to research-grade EEG to everyone who wants it. Their interface device includes the code that allows for any interested DIY-er to visualize their own brainwaves. Very amazing and cool stuff.
The pursuits of these companies coalesces with what the NIH is doing?mapping the bodys electrical wiring. Its quite possible that by adding a computer interface, well be able to move things just by using our minds. Imagine the implications for those with physical disabilities, as well as the potential of noninvasive neural therapeutics. Could a new era of electroceuticals be on the horizon?
These companies are taking down the very expensive barriers to exploring the uncharted world of the human brain. As designer-engineers, they see only the benefits of collaborating with anyone whos interested. With open platforms from OpenBCI and Backyard Brains, the brainwave floodgates are about to open, bringing the neurolab out from behind the walls of a few academic research facilities to the masses. Thats why I am nominating them for Best New Platform.
Come back soon to hear about more exciting innovations and JUICE GameChanger nominations.