researchblogging 2 New Brainwave Products, Can You Spot The Fraud?This week two new brain computer interface (BCI) based products have hit the headlines, one is a hoax. I’ve placed the adverts for both below, see if you can figure out which one is a real project.

 

Project Black Mirror
The developers of “project black mirror” claim to have developed a BCI that can control an  iphone using Siri.

Neurowear
The developers of “Neurowear” claim to have developed a pair of wearable rabbit ears containing a BCI that moves based on your mood.

But, can you tell which one is an elaborate hoax?

(Watch the videos, check out their websites but don’t scroll down until you’ve made your guess.)

Flying Saucer Hoax 2 New Brainwave Products, Can You Spot The Fraud?

An elaborate hoax

Believe it or not, it turns out that the project that is a hoax is actually the mobile phone device “project black mirror“. This is clear for a number of reasons:

1. EEG can not yet be deciphered anywhere near the extent necessary to achieve a wide range of commands based simply on imagined words. At the moment it is only possible to assign commands based on cues such as our emotions or imagined movements of different parts of the body. Even then, there is a very long way to go before we can achieve significantly more commands than can be counted on one hand.

2. On the “project black mirror” page the group make the blunder of describing the device as an ECG instead of an EEG. An ECG is an electrocardiogram which measures activity from the heart while an EEG is an Electroencephalograph which measures activity from the brain, by definition, a necessary component in any BCI (the brain, that is).

3. On the “project black mirror” page the group describe the device as measuring signals in the range of 0-5v. EEG signals are approximately one millionth of that range! (“microvolts” not “volts”.)

4. The chip board in the “project black mirror” video isn’t properly attached.

5. In the “project black mirror” video, on the laptop screen there is an animation of the matrix code, presumably instead of an EEG output.

As @Interaxon has pointed out, this is a rather sad trick to play because it devalues the work being done by genuine BCI researchers and raises expectations to an unrealistic level. That said, progress is being made. Only this week a breakthrough study was published in the Lancet that demonstrated using EEG that 19% of patients diagnosed with being in a vegative state could respond using BCI.

“Three (19%) of 16 patients could repeatedly and reliably generate appropriate EEG responses to two distinct commands, despite being behaviourally entirely unresponsive (classifi cation accuracy 61–78%)”

(Cruse et, al, 2011) [Open access PDF via The Lancet]

This is a major step forward, demonstrating clinically that there really is potential for us to communicate using the many different BCI packages in development around the world with those that currently have no way of communicating whatsoever. This really is a noble goal and one that we are, right now, witnessing being achieved for the first time. Conversely, the “Project Black Mirror” video appears to be attempting to capitalise on this by applying to crowd-fund their “project” using Kickstarter. This is at best a poor thought out hoax and at worst a blundering attempt to commit a major fraud.

Now, there is one  question left to answer and that is…

“What about the BCI rabbit ears?”
Well, it seems that this project may well indeed be genuine. The concept itself is certainly scientifically grounded and empirically demonstrated (Coan, et al. 2004) [Open access PDF]. As for the product, well if there is someone bonkers enough to create it then there would be no reason why it would not be technically possible. And that, it would appear, there is.

NB: This is not an endorsement of the “neurowear” product. I have seen no published data and the apparent use of one electrode suggests the device would be vulnerable to confounding facial movements (See my critical post on the Emotiv’). That said, they certainly aren’t the first group to come up with an attempted wacky implementation of BCI and they certainly won’t be the last.

References:
Damian Cruse, Srivas Chennu, Camille Chatelle, Tristan A Bekinschtein, Davinia Fernández-Espejo, John D Pickard, Steven Laureys, Adrian M Owen (2011). Bedside detection of awareness in the vegetative state: a cohort study The Lancet : 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61224-5

Coan, J., & Allen, J. (2004). Frontal EEG asymmetry as a moderator and mediator of emotion Biological Psychology, 67 (1-2), 7-50 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.03.002

If you like what I do please consider taking a nanosecond to click on the viral ad below before closing the window, thanks!

Return to Neurobonkers.com 2 New Brainwave Products, Can You Spot The Fraud?
Tagged with:
 
  • Pingback: Project Black Mirror is a Fraud!!! | Science News | Scoop.it

  • http://www.interaxon.ca Melisa_InteraXon

    Great work! Thanks for acknowledging the Lancet study on vegetative patients – what would you like to see happen in the future with BCI? What direction do you think we’re heading in?

    • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

      Hi Melisa,

      Thanks, I really enjoyed your article too. I’ve emailed you a copy of my research using BCI. I’m hoping BCI will begin to be used soon soon on a wide scale in hospitals for Locked in patients. It’s a field of work I’d really like to get in to myself!

  • http://sessionaltherapy.com London Counselling

    Very interesting. The rabbit ears seem like an encouraging step, However, it seems to still need research and work before it goes on the market. Thanks for exposing the Project lack Mirror for the fraud that it is.

  • Cargo Cult

    I suspect Project Black Mirror is actually part of a viral ad campaign for Channel 4′s upcoming Black Mirror drama series, created by Charlie Brooker. (Although does pointing this out mean I’m helping their publicity rather than destroying a conspiracy? Oh no!)

    • http://neurobonkers.com Neurobonkers

      Haha, interesting theory! My theory is if it is not a fluke they were hoping to capitalise on the name  so that when people started googleing for Brookers show they landed on the “Project Black Mirror” page. Brookeresque indeed.

  • Cookie Garris

    I needed a little challenge tonight so I’m glad I ran across this. If the guys from Project Black Mirror are really trying to commit fraud their punishment should consist of being handcuffed to Gilbert Gottfried while calling them an idiot over and over again for all eternity. Here’s a few reasons why:

    1. They keep using technobabble that sounds like it was from a rejected Star Trek script from hell.
    2. One guy starts the video with an English accent then in the middle of the video he suddenly has a Scottish accent.
    3. Like you stated earlier. DON’T USE VIDEO FROM A MOVIE 80% OF THE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET HAVE SEEN LIKE “THE MATRIX” TO TRY AND COMMIT FRAUD!

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...