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The Anthill is Alive With The Sound of Neuroscience

Tim marched his way down to El Hormiguero 3.0 (Spanish for “The Anthill”) to to continue talking about electrical impulses in the body. A special guest got to play with our new Claw model, and we dropped teasers for a few new products and experiments that have everybody firin’ and flexin’! ???

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Fly a drone with your brain and eyes!

This University of Michigan student team developed a way to control a drone with a new kind of controller…

The Braincopter Team!

We work with students of all ages — from outreach to early elementary, to hands-on demonstrations, labs, and even research with students from fifth grade to… well, grad school and beyond!

We wanted to share this novel and exciting project which is the result of a group of Aerospace Engineering students who had an exciting question: Can we fly a plane, or at least a drone, with our thoughts?

It wasn’t an easy project, but with very minimal support on our end, they were able to get a prototype up and running within just the few weeks allotted to the project!

But how does it work?

Click to view the PDF

The students took advantage of two signals that you can record using the Heart and Brain SpikerBox – First, EEG (Electroencephalograms, or brain waves) could be used to “wake up” the drone (take off / ready) by opening your eyes, or “put it to sleep” (land / standby) by closing your eyes. This works because, when you record from your occipital lobe, alpha waves are present when your eyes are closed, and “disappear” when they are open – a phenomenon which the students leveraged for their “On/Off” switch.

Then they used EOG signals (Electrooculograms, from your eyes!) to tell the drone to move in different directions depending on if you are looking up, down, left, or right. This is possible thanks to the different electrical signals recorded when you look in different directions.

They were able to do this in real time, creating a very creative control scheme that could be applied to other devices as well. The sky is the limit for the future of this project! Or maybe not just the sky… maybe space isn’t even a limit anymore for students these days!

If you have a story to share, email us at hello@backyardbrains.com !


First Place at Science Fair for Student using BYB Gear

My name is Azrin Khan and I am currently a junior (11th grade) in Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet Senior High School in California. My purpose is to build a device which will alert humans when they are going to have muscle cramps, and it will keep a record of the intensity of the cramp and how many times it happened. In addition to that, I am also going to build an app where all the data will be stored, and their doctor will also have access to the data so that any health issues can be determined and kept in control. This is an idea I got after watching all the diseases that have muscle cramps as their symptoms, and I believe having muscle cramps should not be neglected but it should be greatly taken care of and kept track of.

I asked Backyard Brains if they could help me with my project, and so I started to work with their Muscle SpikerShield. At the Bravo/USC Science and Engineering Fair last month, I won First Place in my category which was Mathematics and Computer Sciences.

Engineering Goal

The goal of this project was to construct a device which will assist epileptics to be alerted of their condition, and alert others around them to be on the lookout for danger when muscles contract abnormally in the body. Also, code to interpret the data recorded from the device into a human understandable language and using a live graph to plot real-time data which will be useful to both the individual and doctors and other professionals to be updated on the most recent conditions. This is the very first device that uses the electrical potential measured from muscle contraction to identify muscle cramps.

Overview of Project

This project uses an alarming device which sounds whenever muscles contract abnormally in a person’s body so that others nearby can also be aware of the patient’s condition. To test if the device was working, I tested on Lumbricus Terrestris (earthworms) and measured the electrical potential for 30 seconds on each earthworm. The device can also record the electrical potential every second so that the recorded information can be shared with their doctors and other professionals through these updates regarding their conditions. The live graph uses Python 2.7.15, and Python IDLE was used as the developing environment. Piezo Speakers connected to the Arduino Uno and Backyard Brains’ Muscle SpikerShield combination device alarms as soon as the electrical potential units reach 95 to 100. In the future, I would like to use an app to make the live graph available to doctors so that they can keep up with their patient’s health.

Results

In conclusion, my device is functioning properly and in addition to my device, I’ve also designed a shirt with a pocket on the left sleeve that patients can use to hold their devices (see below). The Bravo/USC Science and Engineering Fair 2019 was a huge success for me. In my category, Computer Science and Mathematics, there were very impressive projects; someone used a drone to construct a gas sensor, while another participant coded a website that is designed to help people with OCD. I had a total of three judges who interviewed me, and two of the judges were professors from the KECK School of Medicine of USC and another judge was a lab PI also from the KECK School of Medicine of USC.

Prototype Design



If you have any examples of our gear in the field, don’t hesitate to email us and share your stories! Send us a note at hello@backyardbrains.com