Mind-controlled ball-in-the-maze game

Sept 2015 – Feb 2016

Main task: research, implementing brain-computer interface for the game

Role: Researcher | Student

Company: Gdansk University of Technology

Context

In 2015 the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics bought an innovative Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) device, called Epoc Emotive and started to look for the research possibilities given by such an interface. One of the suggestion was to develop a state-of-art ball-in-the-maze game controlled by the mind. Players would be controlling the inclination of the physical game board by inducing specific thoughts. The project was eagerly taken by me and my colleague, Wiktor Szulfer. 

Actions

My main tasks were to conduct research on brain-computer interfaces (BCI), design the interaction and implement it. I started with an existing literature review in order to gain an understanding of BCI and the basics of neuroscience. Having this knowledge, I started testing different interaction options given by the Epoc Emotiv band with a bigger understanding and confidence. For our project, I chose the movement-visualisation interaction. Firstly, the user would train the band by visualising a ball rolling to one of the four directions. Then, during the game, if a user would think of a ball rolling to one of the sides, the band would recognise it and start the platform movement. 

Having designed the game interaction, yet the interface architecture was to be designed and implemented. I decided on the pipeline of user-band-computer interface – Arduino – maze-platform. I used the C# for the GUI of the game. Then I added a python script that received the band signals, filtered them and shared them with Arduino. Finally, the code in Arduino C was used to steer the signals to the drivers of the servomotors that were moving the maze platform.

Results

Together with Wiktor, we managed to create a working physical game steered by the user’s mind. The video of the game can be watched here. Our work not only made us proud but also gained the big interest of others. We received the highest grade for the BSc project and we were awarded 3 awards for the best degree project: 🥉 3rd Prize in Siemens contest, 🥈 2nd prize in Association of Polish Electrical Engineers SEP Gdansk and 🏅 1st prize in Technical Universities Forum in Electronics and Automation category.