September 19, 2011 report
Danish group develops EEG Smartphone app (w/ video)
(PhysOrg.com) -- Sometimes with Smartphone apps the line between seriousness and gimmick is difficult to discern. Take for example the Smartphone Brain Scanner developed by Jakob Eg Larsen and his colleagues at the Technical University of Denmark. Its a hardware/software gadget that allows anyone with a Nokia N900 Smartphone and associated hardware, to run an electroencephalography (EEG) scan of their brain in the comfort of their home. The hardware consists of a head harness with probes for applying to the scalp. It sends wireless signals to the N900 which then displays a virtual image of the brain based on electrical activity.
But the question remains, is it a truly useful application or a gimmick? It appears the group means for it to be a useful medical tool, similar to home heart or blood pressure monitors. For those with epilepsy or other such medical maladies, having such a home monitor would mean not having to travel to a medical facility on a periodic basis. Its also likely the home device would offer more true results as the anxiety of a lab visit and test would be eliminated. And while there is an option that comes with the system that allows for sending data to a server that does a more serious crunching of the data, its not likely the device is as sensitive or accurate as the much more expensive machines typically used in a medical facility. Thus, its not clear whether medical professionals would accept the results of such a device as useful.
Also there is the fact that some might see the device as a sort of party game. Its not difficult to imagine college kids sitting around drinking hooking one another up to the device and laughing as they watch their brain cells dying in real time, right before their eyes.
Having said all that, there are other issues as well, for example, in the video the group has made of their gadget, there is no sign of either the goo that normally goes along with such devices to cause the probes to adhere to the scalp, nor is there apparently any instructions pointing out where exactly on the scalp the probes are supposed to go. And the group shot at the end, with a table full of men with the harness and probes all connected comes across as just a little freaky. Thus, once again, the question arises, is this a serious application or a gimmick?
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