Maker Faire, the annual gathering where 70,000-some hackers and tinkerers display their projects, hosted a booth from the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) last weekend. Dr. William Casebeer, a DARPA program manager, is hoping to spark a neuroscience fad within the maker movement. One of four EEG projects that were funded by DARPA in June, S12 Technologies is working on designing electrodes that can be 3D printed, along with software that can work on a phone or tablet to provide low cost clinical grade EEG to application developers.
Dr. Casebeer’s goal is to return to Maker Faire next year with an ultra simple electroencephalography device for less than $30 that would allow anyone to take research-grade measurements of their own brain. “We need simpler methods,” he says. “There’s an entire community here of hobbyists, citizen scientists, and makers… who would be willing to engage in neuroscience.”
In addition to aiding cloud sourced development of new applications, inexpensive clinical grade EEG measurements and phone linked apps could bring improved medical care to remote and impoverished areas, linking in medical specialists without needing to transport either physician or patient for the initial evaluation. Helmets for sports or the military could potentially detect traumatic brain injuries in real time, increasing knowledge on protection and providing options for immediate treatment or long term monitoring.