Wireless Earbuds For Detecting Neural Signals And Commanding Smartphones

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Researchers are developing earbuds that can detect and monitor brain waves for issuing commands to smartphones wirelessly.

With various interfaces, smartphones are becoming more seamless. Researchers from University of California, Berkeley are approaching towards commanding smartphones with your brain waves.

Brain-Computer Interface refers to the communication between brain and computer. It has been used in clinical trials to monitor epilepsy and other brain disorders. It is a promising technology to enable a user to move a prosthesis simply by neural commands. Researchers believe that this technology can enable smarter smartphones that can be controlled by brain waves.

Researchers figured out how to detect neural signals. According to them, ear EEG (electroencephalography) can detect and record brain activity.

Rikky Muller, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, says, “In the last five years, Ear EEG has emerged as a viable neural recording modality. Inspired by the popularity of wireless earbuds, my group aimed to figure out how to make Ear EEG a practical and comfortable user-generic interface that can be integrated with consumer earbuds. We’ve demonstrated the ability to fit a wide population of users, to detect high-quality neural signals and to transmit these signals wirelessly via Bluetooth.”

For better comfort, EEG earbuds have to fit in the user’s ears. There are other challenges like the signals that are to be sensed are ultra-small, so the electrodes must make very good contact with the ear canal.

“We took a database of ear canal measurements published by the audiology community for hearing aids, and we created an earbud structure with flexible electrodes in an outward flare that creates a gentle pressure so the earbud fits in anyone’s ear. It’s user-generic,” says Muller.

She added, “We also need to assess which types of inputs are acceptable to users. There are many pieces of amazing technology that haven’t been adopted widely because they are not very comfortable to use in your daily life. I don’t know, for example, if “Blink once for yes, and twice for no” is going to be readily adopted. So there’s a big question of usability.”


 

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