Nokia N900 application powers portable brain scanner

N900 Powers portable brain scanner
N900 Powers portable brain scanner

For the first time it’s now possible to use a smartphone as part of a portable brain scanner that lets you monitor your neural signals on the go, New Scientist reports.

By connecting a commercially available EEG headset to a Nokia N900 smartphone, Jakob Eg Larsen and his colleagues at the Technical University of Denmark have managed to create a completely portable system.

Wearing the headset and starting up the application, creates a simplified 3D model of the brain that lights up as brainwaves are detected. This is the first time a smartphone has been used to power the EEG headset. The headset monitors the electrical activity of the brain and is normally intended to connect via USB to a USB receiver plugged into a PC.

“Traditionally, in order to do these kind of EEG measurements you have big lab set-ups that are really expensive,” says Larsen. “You have to bring people in, isolate them and give them specific tasks.” This new concept would let researchers study people’s brain signals in a more natural environment. The application can also connect to a remote server for more demanding calculations and then send back the results to the Nokia N900.

“Our vision is for EEG to be a regular thing that you have at home,” say Arkadiusz Stopczynski, who worked on the project with Larsen. “It’s much better than going to the lab, sitting there for 1 hour of EEG and going home.”

“The realisation of a real-time brain-mapping system on a cellphone is a nice task,” says Gunther Krausz of G.Tec Medical Engineering, a firm based in Schiedlberg, Austria, which supplies EEG systems to researchers. But as a research tool, he says, the phone can’t compare with dedicated medical devices. “You need sophisticated stimulation devices and data-processing”, which cannot be done with the application alone.