Imec, the world-leading nanoelectronics research center, Holst Centre (set up by imec and The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, TNO), and the Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) faculty of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), announced the introduction of a new wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) headset that can be worn comfortably and achieves a high-quality EEG signal. The headset enables effective brain-computer interfacing and can monitor emotions and mood in daily life situations using a smartphone application.
Wireless technology that measures body parameters has become increasingly popular in lifestyle applications. Imec and Holst Centre aim to extend the functionality of consumer applications and true healthcare monitoring wearables. To realize this, they develop headsets that combine medical-grade data acquisition with increased comfort. Imec’s wireless EEG headsets with dry electrodes are easy to apply and support long-term daily life monitoring. Such headsets can be used in consumer applications such as games that monitor relaxation, engagement and concentration. Wireless headsets can also be used for attention training, sleep training and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
“Leveraging imec’s strong background in EEG sensing, dry polymer and active electrodes, miniaturized and low-power data acquisition, and low-power wireless interfaces to smartphones, we were able to focus on the ergonomics of this project. In doing so, we have successfully realized this unique combination of comfort and effectiveness at the lowest possible cost to the future user,” stated Bernard Grundlehner, EEG system architect at imec.
Designing a wireless EEG headset with dry electrodes presents several technical challenges, such as finding a balance between comfort and signal quality. To ensure good signal quality, the dry electrodes must be applied to the head with sufficient pressure. This becomes especially critical when the measurement is done over longer periods of time. It is also very important to retain this balance to accommodate a variety of people with different head sizes and shapes. However, increasing the pressure can cause user discomfort as evidenced by previous product iterations.
Imec and Holst Centre’s new headset manages to strike a harmonious balance between comfort and signal quality. This was achieved by a design procedure that optimizes shape and stiffness by prototyping and testing repeatedly in very short loops. A team of six master students from the faculty IDE of TU Delft worked on this challenge in their Advanced Embodiment Design (AED) project. After an analysis of the technology that was developed by imec and Holst Centre, design research was carried out among potential users and applications. This research led to the development of a concept which minimizes intrusiveness, making comfort possible for a large segment of the targeted population outside of a controlled research environment.
The EEG headset is manufactured in one piece using state-of-the-art 3-D printing techniques, after which the electronic components are applied and covered by a 3-D-printed rubber inlay. The sensors that acquire the EEG signal are situated at the front of the headset in order to allow for optimal EEG signal acquisition related to emotion and mood variations. The mobile app relates the user’s emotional state to environmental information such as agenda, location, proximity to others and time of day, in order to provide feedback about the unconscious effects of the environment on the user’s emotions, thus creating awareness and actionable new insights.
About Holst Centre
Holst Centre (holstcentre.com) is an independent open-innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia around shared roadmaps and programs. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs.
Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by imec (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Government of Flanders. It is named after Gilles Holst, a Dutch pioneer in research and development and first director of Philips Research.
Located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from the state-of-the-art onsite facilities. Holst Centre has over 180 employees from around 28 nationalities and a commitment from more than 45 industrial partners.
Imec (imec.be) performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top-talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, India and Japan. Its staff of about 2,200 people includes almost 700 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2014, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 363 million euro.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).
About TU Delft
Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (tudelft.nl) is a modern university with a rich tradition. Its eight faculties and over 40 English-language Master programs are at the forefront of technological development, contributing to scientific advancement in the interests of society. Ranked among the top universities of technology in the world, TU Delft’s excellent research and education standards are backed by outstanding facilities and research institutes and research schools. TU Delft maintains close links with (inter)national industry, a strategic alliance contributing to the relevance of its academic programs and career prospects for its graduates.
The faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) educates the designers and researchers of tomorrow. They encourage themselves to be curious, cooperative, determined, inspiring and creative. IDE students, researchers and over 5,500 alumni can cut through complex problems and identify viable solutions. IDE students develop a strong business sense, communicating with partners and remaining attuned to the needs of those for whom they are creating products and services.
One of the courses at the faculty IDE is Advanced Embodiment Design. This course is aimed at students working in close cooperation with a real client to develop an existing product or technology further into a new improved product design, up to a level ready for actual production. Students are expected to apply scientific research techniques and state-of-the-art design methods and technologies.
The 3,800 TNO professionals (tno.nl) put their knowledge and experience to work in creating smart solutions to complex issues. These innovations help to sustainably strengthen industrial competitiveness and social well-being. We are partnered by some 3,000 companies and organizations, including SMEs, in the Netherlands and around the world. On the topic of healthy living, we initiate technological and societal innovation for healthy living and a dynamic society.
On the topic of Industrial Innovation we reinforce the innovative strength of industry through innovation in products and processes, with a strong focus on sustainability.