An Innovative Sensor Platform for Virtual Reality: Brain Connected AR-VR Headset
Galea, created by OpenBCI, integrates a variety of sensors to produce a complete solution. These sensors include eye tracking, photoplethysmography, electroencephalography, electromyography, electrodermal activity, and electromyography.
The electrical activity of brain messages is measured using EEG devices. People can put rubber-tipped sensors used by OpenBCI close to their scalps. Even when dry, these electrodes are still functional. To get the best signal quality, it is crucial to ensure that hair interference is kept to a minimum.
On the other hand, nerve and muscle electrical activity is measured using EMG sensors. These sensors are part of Galea’s facemask, which has sensors placed around the forehead, eyes, and cheeks.
Even the smallest motions of my facial muscles are recorded by Galea’s sensors, which then convert them into quantifiable results. This is not like VR headsets like the Quest Pro, you should note. The latter uses face cameras to identify particular bodily movements. Galea can detect exceedingly minute motions that resemble straightforward brain impulses because its findings are totally electrical.
Picture: Scott Stein/CNET
Another business, Meta, is developing EMG technology for wristbands. Future headsets and wristbands can be used together, according to the manufactures. However, the main goal of this wrist-based technology is to track motions of the hand and fingers. As opposed to this, OpenBCI’s sensors are designed exclusively to track face movements.
Galea also features EDA (electrodermal activity) sensors, which track electrical signals generated by perspiration on the skin. This adds another layer of data for a more thorough comprehension of the user’s physiological reactions.
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EDA sensors are primarily used to measure stress levels. EDA sensors from OpenBCI have also been placed into the Galea headset’s forehead area, providing the ability to detect stress.
Photoplethysmography, or PPG, is a technique for optically measuring heart rate that is frequently used in most smartwatches. Galea’s final version also takes into account PPG measurements of the forehead region. The Varjo XR-3 VR-AR headset can be used in conjunction with Galea’s sensor array. This also holds true for the less expensive Varjo Aero. You must link the system to a computer that runs the software and does data analysis in order to use it.
The cutting-edge capabilities of Varjo’s high-resolution display and passthrough video mixed reality boost OpenBCI’s sensor array. Additionally, this opens up a wide range of software options for VR and AR scenarios. It’s crucial to remember that OpenBCI’s sensors are adaptable. such that they can operate without a VR headset.
Apple’s Vision Pro platform for OpenBCI is a promising one. Its outstanding processing power and standalone capabilities are primarily to blame for this. The CEO and co-founder of OpenBCI, Conor Russomanno, acknowledged the possibility of working with platforms like Vision Pro or upcoming AR and VR platforms. He also draws comparisons between OpenBCI’s viewpoint on the prospects in this area and Apple’s current emphasis on the computer components of mixed reality.
Accessibility goals: Brain Connected AR-VR Headset
Picture: Scott Stein/CNET
The sensory array of OpenBCI has the capacity to investigate multiple alternatives at once. The system’s sensors have the ability to support research efforts while also permitting interactions with computers, as opposed to concentrating on a single goal. With the help of OpenBCI’s sensory array, a hacker with spinal muscular atrophy named Christian Beyerlein was able to operate a drone by sending impulses from his facial muscles. This amazing performance, which was delivered as a TED talk, served as an example of how brain-computer interfaces may transform accessibility and offer better control over digital and physical technologies.
EMG technology is used to find incredibly minute electrical impulses. When we talk about precision, there should be no discernible muscle movements. However, it may take some time and significant improvement to achieve seamless integration between sensors, algorithms, and human input at such a level. With its wide range of sensors, OpenBCI has the potential to produce a plethora of data that could guide future research efforts and stimulate the creation of innovative interfaces.
These sensors can also provide information about how the use of VR and AR affects the brain and attention. The foundation for this field has already been created by earlier efforts to research cognitive processes utilizing sensors on VR headsets, such as the HP Omnicept with its heart-rate sensor or headsets with eye-tracking capabilities.
A sensory platform with the potential for broader applications beyond headsets
In fact, the OpenBCI product Galea serves as both a VR and AR headgear. The sensor array of Galea can be used independently in addition to being compatible with Varjo’s technology, which is an important component. This feature is especially exciting when you take into account the possibility of a future in which wearable technology interacts with one another to improve daily interactions.
Although the idea of sophisticated sensor-driven wearables is still a long way off, OpenBCI’s integration of sensor technology into Galea appears to be the first step in that direction. Currently, it is difficult to persuade people of the value of VR, AR, and wearable visual technology.
The key to the development of VR/AR into something genuinely significant, albeit potentially uncomfortable, may lie in improving our interactions with spatial computing and the real environment. The continued advancement of personal technology points to an expanding relationship between our senses and our brains, yet the glimpses we have seen so far are just the tip of the iceberg.