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Tim Marzullo Talks Human-Human-Interface, BYB History on “Neural Implants” Podcast

Recently, our very own Tim Marzullo spoke with the Ladan Jiracek, host and creator of the “Neural Implant Podcast.” This podcast describes its purpose as “bringing together the field of neuroprosthetics, brain-machine interfaces, and brain implants through an understandable conversation on the current topics and breakthroughs in the fields.”

The Podcast runs just under an hour, with Tim covering a great range of subject matter. Beginning with the viral sensation that was (and still is…) our “Human-Human-Interface” TED talk, Tim discusses the genesis of that project and then of the company itself.

Tim then goes on to discuss the role he sees Backyard Brains playing in education as we address the lack of accessible neuroscience tools and education, before discussing his perspective on the future of the field and his hopes for Backyard Brains’ future.

The podcast covers all this and more, but we’ll leave you to listen to it yourself! Check it out at Neural Implant , then consider checking out some of the other podcasts on the site! Many of the scientists interviewed are friends of BYB and are up to fascinating work. Hope you enjoy!


The Claw Goes LIVE (With Your Muscles!)


The Backyard Brains Claw Bundle is the latest in our line of Muscle SpikerShield products! This kit comes with everything you need to begin experimenting with your first brain-machine interface. By using the electrical activity hidden within your muscles, you will learn how to control your first neuroprosthetic, the Claw!

We’ve also provided a number of established documentations and experiments in conjunction with this new release! The Claw experiment takes what you learned from our beginner neuroprosthetics experiment, the Muscle SpikerShield experiments and the Muscle Spikershield Robotic Gripper experiment and bundles it all together into a fantastic introduction to “neuroprosthetics,” a rich field of study which seeks to bring control back into the lives of people who have suffered loss of limb or severe nerve damage.


With this experiment you will learn about:

Biofeedback: Using technology to monitor and react to control previously hidden physiological functions, such as heartbeat, muscle tension, and even brain activity!

Threshold potential: How much energy does it take to flip the switch and turn on a muscle or a motor?

Muscle recruitment: The difference between a soft, gentle movement, and a strong, quick movement is how quickly and how many muscles are activated!

One famous demonstration of the potential of neuroprosthetics came from the University of Pittsburgh Motorlab. These researchers implanted electrodes into a monkey’s motor cortex, thus allowing the monkey to take control of a robotic arm. The monkey learned to use this robotic arm to feed itself.


The Claw Bundle experiment does not, obviously, involve brain surgery, however; the principles behind the technology are the same! You can however make contributions to the future of neuroprosthetics through your own DIY experiments! What else can you control? The possibilities are endless!

The Claw Bundle is available for $189.99 and comes with everything you need to perform the experiment right out of the box!


Neural Interfaces Desde Santiago Hasta Oaxaca to Ann Arbor

In March 2014 we went to Mexico’s first Maker Faire, invited by Amor Muñoz, a Mexican Textile and Electronic artist, who we met at Chile’s Santiago MakerFaire in November 2013. The Mexico MakerFaire took place in Oaxaca, a place known for traditional crafts, pero ahora se esta transformando en un lugar de “Nuevos-Makers” de diseño, electronica, etc.

During this MakerFaire, we ran a two day workshop where we met Jose Enrique, un alumno de ingeniera electronica. He knew his electronics, y nos ayudó mucho durante el taller. Jose asked if he could have some extra equipment for his studies – specifically, an extra Arduino for more experiments with the EMG SpikerShield.

We said, “Sure, but promise us that you will send us a video of something you did with this gear, with a deadline of three weeks.” Y el lo hizo, tres semanas después nos envió un video de liquid cystal display (LCD) contralado con la actividad de sus músculos. So….Let’s do more! We gave him a job offer to design “three interfaces” with the EMG SpikerShield, and importantly, write them up in BYB style so we could add them to our website. Durante Mayo y Julio, trabajabamos en equipo, and now it’s ready – Versión en EnglishVersion in Español). You can learn how to control a stepper motor, an LCD screen, and a Gripper arm with your muscle activity!

Cuando todo estaba listo,  we asked Jose, “Gracias por tu buen trabajo, Can you send us your bank details so we can wire you the compensation for your good work?” Jose counter-offered, saying, “Can you send me an oscilloscope instead?”
Ummm….like… o sea….onda…  Yeah! we can do that. An engineer that wants to be paid in equipment that allows him to invent more? We approve. We bought the oscilloscope he wanted from Amazon and sent it on down to Oaxaca. It is now part of Jose’s lab. Gracias por tu trabajo Jose, e ¡inventa más! Con nuestros cerebros quemando con el fuego de creatividad y nuestras manos productivas podemos dar a luz cosas maravillosas a este mundo.  See Jose’s home lab below.  Eso es donde las ideas se transforman en realidad.

We should have expected no less. Our main method of communication has been through that popular invention of Mark Zuckerburg, and this is Jose’s profile photo. ¡Saludos! Stay tuned… we are now beginning to work on EEG’s together. Also, Happy Birthday Tesla!