I am placing a heavy focus on the staying power of the NeuroTechnology Exploration (NTX) and the supporting research project and so have been exploring several funding avenues. On Dr. Phillip's recommendation and introduction, I met with Cameron Thurnherr of RIT crowdfunding and laid the foundation for a future campaign. I have mobilized our designer and videographer to start developing content for the campaign and have held strategic meetings regarding its launch.
The majority of Week 5 was spent building researcher EMG understanding and refining our technologies. Team Software used a MyoWare board to build a single channel EMG controller for the popular game Flappy Bird (Link coming). The board was placed on the user's bicep or forearm and was programmed to execute the 'click' computer action each time neuronal firings broke a present threshold. In other words, each time the player flexed his/her muscle, the bird would go up. The game worked reasonably well. The system had small delays from the muscle clench to the computer action and would occasionally misfire due to cross-talk and interference but it represented a great first step.
This project was further built upon through a collaboration between engineering teams. Researchers connected three MyoWare boards to an Arduino Feather to create three channels of computer input. They matched these to the three essential drive buttons, gas, left, and right to play a racing video game (Link coming).
By Week 6, all of the researchers had basic experience collecting and making sense of EMG data so we shifted our focus to refining our systems and building more complete prototypes. The Flappy Bird code was rewritten to produce values from 1-100 and have a moving activation threshold. These changes made delay negligible and accuracy nearing 100%.
Armed with these promising figures, we conducted brainstorming sessions to come up with a few worthwhile prototypes that we could take to events to demonstrate the technology.
We decided to pursue the following ideas:
Prosthetic Under $100 - Collaboration with PORTAL to build an affordable 3D-printed EMG controlled arm
Tiger Head - 3D printed tiger head with mouth that opens/closes, light up eyes, and a 'roar' sound effect controlled by EMG/EEG
RC Car Racing - Full EMG control of two RC cars for racing
Electric Wheelchair - using EMG and eye-tracking to control an electric wheelchair giving the freedom of movement back to those who have lost it
EMG Bracelet - LED bracelet that changes color based off of collected muscle signals. This could theoretically be adapted to correspond with certain ASL symbols
Focus Copter - EEG controlled rc helicopter based off of focus
MuscleSense Fabric - use fabric embedded EMG electrodes to sense muscle exertion and form during vigorous exercise
For all of the above ideas, we are emphasizing the end user. All projects need to feel like a usable product. They must be easily usable and understandable, reproducible, 'feel' complete (in custom housing - no loose wires etc.). Going along with ease of use, we have been researching and experimenting with conductive fabric. Using conductive fabric would allow us to ensure correct placement of the electrodes by the end user, make them 100% reusable, and allow for custom collection point sizes. Early testing with the fabric has been promising, showing weak, but consistent signals.
These goals at large seem ambitious but the NTX team is prepared to take them on. We already have two projects nearly finished which will be reported on in the next update period.
This Week's Accomplishments & Events
Meeting with RIT Crowdfunding - Planned launch Nov. 15 - 9/25
Strategic meeting with undergraduate neuroscience advisor, Abby Shteckler 9/26
First researcher project finished, muscle controlled Flappy Bird (Niko Procopi) 9/26
Dr. Christopher Gottschalk of Yale joins the advisory board 9/28
Researchers from Team Electric (Russell Cobb) and Team Software (Niko Procopi) build an EMG controller for a racing video game 9/30
Tiger Tank application submitted for the EMGo assistive wheelchair 10/1
Team Electric Researcher, Reid Kovacs, presents research on different EMG electrode technology and possibility of using conductive fabric 10/3
Team Electric Researcher, Hillary Li, modifies code to make highly accurate single channel EMG output
Ordering issues resolved after meeting with Debbie Monaghan 10/5
**Links will be added soon to videos for several bullet points