Robot Army : Ditching the EEG

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After a jolly romp to Quick Care to get antibiotics for my fluffy sinus, I ‘m in bed again writing emails. This PR stuff so far is feeling a lot like standing on my tip toes while shouting through a cardboard tube. >.<

I did head down to SYN Shop yesterday for my first late night hang out since this spring. One of Mark’s old friends from Sun, Tsutomu, was in town for LDI (the lighting trade show) and I got to pick his brain while I was there. He was a great wealth of knowledge and gave some good feedback about me and Mark’s collaborative work as well as my light installation. Long story short, he persuaded me from using an EEG to control the robots like I was planning to. He voiced everything I had already assumed about the reality of using neural input to control anything electronic. Brain noise is noisy.

I thought for the past couple years that I could use something on the market like the Emotiv Epoch to easily decode the mess of signals coming from my brain and implement them as data inputs. In spite of my excitement about using brainwaves in my art, I held off from buying their device for a couple of reasons. One of them being that in the whole world of hacking, I hadn’t found one other example of someone successfully using an emotiv or anything else like it to do something substantial. The few hacks I did run across seemed more or less like slop turning an LED on and off by chance. There was nothing to convince me that the data people were using was reliable or consistent.

Turns out I was right. EEGs aren’t reliable or consistent. Any sensor used outside the brain is susceptible to picking up huge amounts of chatter from who knows where. Devices like the Epoch give you a tool- but it is more or less up to you as a developer to figure out how to read the input and then decide what (if) you can do anything useful with it. ::sigh::

The solution? Who knows. I have to refocus on the more important matters at hand… like raising funds to build the army! Back to that.

So in other news, I sent Mark’s second revision of the Delta brain off to OSH Park last night – and I was pleased to receive an email this morning already informing me that the panel I was assigned to went to fabrication (cheers). Yesterday,  I also ordered some cards for Pawel and Suz to hand out at their robotics conference in Florida next month. They’ll be taking Santo along with them as a demo…. which means very soon Mark will load him up with code to make him charming and winsome as ever.

Tomorrow morning, more progress and another video.

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