Low-cost & Wearable EEG Technology for Healthy Games

Low-cost & Wearable EEG Technology for Healthy Games

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

NeuroSky has created a single, dry EEG sensor and mental state algorithms to meet the consumer market criteria for low-cost, wearability and value.

About You
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Your idea
Year work began:

1999

Focus of activity

Technology

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Product Design Orientation

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Cognitive Fitness

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

1) Cost and Wearability Factors - have prevented this technology from reaching a mass audience. NeuroSky has successfully addressed these challenges.

2) Public Misconceptions - the lack of familiarity with the technology outside a medical setting and "Big Brother" related concerns fosters a variety of public relation challenges.

Innovation
What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

NeuroSky has created a single, dry EEG sensor and mental state algorithms to meet the consumer market criteria for low-cost, wearability and value.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

NeuroSky has stripped down very cumbersome and very expensive medical EEG solutions, through our patented technology, into a very low-cost and very small form-factor, in order to allow every consumer to experience and enjoy the positive benefits associated with neural technology. What a huge home stereo system is to an IPod, expensive medical technology is to NeuroSky's single sensor product. We don't claim to be a medical grade component, just as the IPod doesn't claim to have the same fidelity as a high-end stereo system. But, similarly to Apple, NeuroSky has made its technology low cost and portable for a broad range of markets, including the market for healthy games.

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

1) Cost - core EEG technology can add no more than $10 to the cost of most consumer products, 2) Wearability - existing, medical EEG technology requires the use of gels, skin preparation, sensor alignment and professionally trained staff. Now, for example, a Starbucks' customer can don a neural headset and start playing cognitive-driven games almost unnoticed, 3) Value - our mental state translations deliver important cognitive data (attention, meditation, anxiety) from the raw brainwaves.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

NeuroSky is a core technology provider to the gaming (and many other) industry. We sell our customers Software Development Kits (SDK's). The customer links to our algorithm library (DLL) to call on the different mental states that we offer. For example, if their game would like to know the player's attention level at any time, it would call the get_attention() function, which returns a 0-100 value scaled to the individual player. Our customer would decide how to use this information. Perhaps, their audience is an ADD youngster. A game could train him/her to lift a heavy object off of the ground using only attention levels. Low attention couldn't lift it, but high attention could. Maybe the target audience is a senior citizen learning to meditate for the first time, or a frustrated boss who has high anxiety after a long day at the office. By meeting the cost-wearability-value criteria of the consumer, this technology is finally hitting the mass wellness and health market.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

Costs! Push them down, down, down, while continuing to deliver equal or superior value to the end-consumer. Low component costs drive low consumer end-product prices. Consumers operate along a price elasticity curve. Their propensity to consume a product goes higher as prices fall. We're using basic economic theory to address the scaling challenge.

Impact
Provide one sentence describing your impact.

The contacts we have developed at the university level, in the field of psychology, where gaming and neurofeedback are being combined for treatments.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

I believe the impact, to date, of the NeuroSky technology is that it has opened doors for both earlier neurofeedback application concepts to re-emerge (since the cost-wearability-value criteria has now been addressed) and for totally new concepts to be developed for using games to improve health. What will spark huge innovation in the games for health category is the profit motive. Since NeuroSky's unique solution is opening up the entire consumer market to saavy innovators, the games for health space should see a dramatic growth of entry by suppliers to the industry. I also believe that this industry's growth will shows signs of accelerating through new technology leaps (such as NeuroSky's) coupled with the growth in the senior citizen population and new discoveries in the field of psychology.

How many people have you served directly?

We are still early stage and providing our development tools to our customers. We should begin seeing their products hit the market as early as Q4-2007. Some of our customers are already piloting their ideas around through various avenues. Unfortunately, we can't give out customer details, at this time, as we are under NDA.

How many people have you served indirectly?

No information on this, yet.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

The impact is measured by the number of our customers developing innovative solutions to problems inherent in the human condition. What they like about our solution is now they can expose their product to a mass audience, rather than a limited one. One researcher in a well-known university on the East Coast was thrilled about the possibility of using NeuroSky to put his virtual world concept for treating addictions, phobias and depression into every home--an alternative to drug treatments.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

Mostly marketing budget. We have to speak the same language as our customers, which means producing demonstration tools geared towards their market perspectives. In other words, we have to help them to understand how this unique technology can improve their customers' experiences. For health games, we sometimes demo some of our own customers' stripped down prototypes at our shows.

Sustainability
How is your initiative financed?

Private funding rounds.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

We don't disclose this information.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Huge. Again, it was designed for the mass consumer market.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

Long product development cycles by our customers.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

One of NeuroSky's founder's daughters was sick and couldn't get out of bed for days. She asked him to make a toy that would come to her without having to get out of bed. He developed a prototype remote control car using eye sensors for directional control and a single EEG sensor to read and interpret her attention level to control the vehicle's acceleration. Later, our CEO's edict was to strip down the technology into a simple, low-cost platform that could be used by various markets.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

BA Applied Math - UC Berkeley / MBA - Santa Clara University / CA Clear Secondary Teaching Credential - Math (San Jose State) / Bay area native / Most of my career was in software and hardware development / Love the bay area and its diversity (& the weather) / One of my proudest acheivements was my stint with the Peace Corps (1991-93) in Guinea, West Africa, teaching math to high school students and learning what it is like to face the daily challenges of existence in a poverty stricken country.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

Direct Outreach from Ashoka Team member: Robert Benedict