Emotiv Systems

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Emotiv Systems is an Australian electronics company developing brain–computer interfaces based on electroencephalography (EEG) technology. The company was founded in 2003 by four scientists and executives: neuroscientist Professor Allan Snyder, chip-designer Neil Weste,[1] and technology entrepreneurs Tan Le[2] and Nam Do.[3] Research Manager is Geoffrey MacKellar.{}

Emotiv EPOC[edit]

A user wearing a wireless Emotiv EPOC headset.

Emotiv System's products are the Emotiv EPOC, a peripheral for gaming on Windows PCs, and the Emotiv EEG neuroheadset.[4]

Emotiv Systems claims the headset will make it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player's mind, and facial expressions. It connects wirelessly with the PC, and may in the future work on other game platforms such as consoles. The Epoc was designed by Emotiv Systems in conjunction with the Sydney based Industrial Design consultancy 4design.[5][6] For compatibility with non-compliant software EmoKey would be provided in order to bind commands to keys or combinations thereof transforming the device into an HID. Software Development Kits are also available.


The EPOC has 14 electrodes[7][8] (compared to the 19 electrodes of a standard medical EEG, and the 3 of OCZ's NIA features and a multiple of NeuroSky's single electrode) as well as a two-axis gyroscope for detecting head movements.

  • Conscious thoughts (Cognitiv suite): The device detects 13 kinds of movement - six directions (left, right, up, down, forward, and "pull/zoom") and six rotations ([anti-]clockwise rotation, turn left and right, and sway backward and forward), plus one other visualization ("disappear"). While the current driver may only be able to listen for any 4 of these at a time, the degrees of freedom are larger than a joystick's 2 df. Ideomotor responses[9] or the much stronger EMG currents aside, these thought Because of the complex detection algorithms involved, there is a slight lag in detecting thoughts.[10] However, the technology may still be useful in a support role like calling up a minimap or radar in a FPS game.
  • Emotions (Affectiv suite): "Excitement", "Engagement/Boredom", "Meditation", and "Frustration" can currently be measured. Emotiv admits that the names may not perfectly reflect exactly what the emotion is, and says that they may be renamed before market launch.
  • Facial expressions (Expressiv suite): Individual eyelid and eyebrow positions, eye position in the horizontal plane, smiling, laughing, clenching, and smirking can currently be detected. Other expressions may be added prior to release. The expressions are detected by the EEG sensors picking up signals to facial muscles, rather than by reading brainwaves. Unlike reading mental activity, these detections are very fast (10ms)[11] conveying a decisive advantage and rendering them suitable for fast paced games in the FPS genre.
  • Head rotation: The angular velocity of one's head can be measured in the yaw and pitch (but not roll) directions. This is detected by gyros, and isn't related to the EEG features.

Potential for EEG Research[edit]

The EEG neuroheadset provides access to raw electroencephalography data. The EPOC brain helmet has eighteen sockets and can hold sixteen nodes or sensor pads. The remaining two sockets usually hold rubber pads, and are known as the secondary reference sensors, which are located immediately below and behind the ears. The primary reference sensors, which generally hold a normal sensor pad, are located immediately above and behind the ears. The sensors pads detect electrical activity on the surface of the brain. Open-source Matlab toolboxes such as EEGLAB, Fieldtrip, and the Neurophysiological Biomarker Toolbox (NBT) can be used to process data from the electroencephalography.


Dr. Zoz Brooks mind controlling a car with EPOC.[12]

The Emotiv EPOC ships with a demo game called "Spirit Mountain", built on the Unity3D. Videos of portions of the game have been shown at conferences and in media interviews. The game involves a first person view of the user walking around a virtual environment, with many different activities at different locations. The sky changes color according to the mood of the player. Demonstrated activities in the game include pushing and rotating giant stone structures into the shape of stone henge, then raising a temple from below the ground; levitating a large rock and some smaller ones; repairing a bridge; bending a tree; and scaring away glowing spirits with scary facial expressions.

The EPOC also includes "EmoKey" software used to emulate keystrokes based on combinations of thoughts, feelings, and facial expressions. Any EPOC detection can be paired with keystrokes or string of keystrokes through a simple user interface by the end user. Future versions will also emulate the mouse based on the gyros. This software allows most existing games, instant messaging programs, and other software to be controlled with the headset.

There is also a planned web site known as "Emortal", for listening to music, viewing photos, and other activities, modified based on what the user is thinking and feeling.

Another product is the Emotiv Control Panel, also seen in many videos, which allows users to train the various thoughts, such as "push" and "disappear", and test them on a floating, bobbing, cube. It also allows users to view their emotional state, such as "excitement", on a graph. It has a 2D blue avatar that allows the user to view their own facial expressions, and adjust the sensitivity of those detections.


The company provides several software development kits,[13] which includes a headset, applications and libraries used for interfacing with the headset, with varying limitations and pricing.

A free of charge SDK (called SDK Lite) is also available for download from the Emotiv website.[14] It includes software to emulate the Emotiv EPOC output for developers who do not have one of the headsets.

The SDKs currently support Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux, Fedora Linux, and Mac OS X[15]


At the Game Developers Conference 2008, in San Francisco an Emotiv headset was among the new video game input devices there. The demo played with the Emotiv was a puzzle where the player rebuilds Stonehenge. To do so, the wearer did hand motions such as pushing and pulling to restore Stonehenge.[16]

In July 2010, Tan Le gave a demo of the headset at a TED conference.[17]


Emotiv has partnered with various companies and educational institutions. Key partners include SMI (SensoMotoric Instruments), Unity, and Massive Black. To see a complete list, go to their Partners page.


For a comparison with other competing devices, see Comparison of consumer brain–computer interfaces.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Emotiv Emerges from Stealth to Revolutionize Human Computer Interaction, – March 7, 2007, Technology Venture Partners Pty. Ltd.
  2. ^ Board of Directors[dead link]Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Board of Directors[dead link]Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Blog Archive » Emotiv EPOC Neuroheadset Update". grinding.be. 2008-03-22. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  5. ^ Emotiv EPOC - Australian International Design Awards
  6. ^ "4design Ltd". 4design.com.au. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Stephen (July 8, 2008). "Headset makes empty Promises of Mind-Control Games". G4 Media, Inc. Retrieved 14 February 2009. 
  8. ^ Top mention under headset features on this site of the corporate domain.
  9. ^ ("I found myself inadvertently tightening my stomach muscles, or raising an eyebrow when I tried to make the box float. The Emotiv guy used his hands to try and cue himself to think the same way every time." (emphasis added) Field report Memorable quote: "It worked ["levitation" thought command recognition from the cognitiv suite]. I laughed in surprise and the box immediately dropped back down again."
  10. ^ "A Community for Disabled Gamers - Disabled Gamers News/Hardware News". AbleGamers. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  11. ^ deep link to youtube where Randy Breen of Emotiv answers a question regarding this during a presentation at Stanford university
  12. ^ ""Prototype This: Mind Controlled Car" on The Discovery Channel". Dsc.discovery.com. 2008-09-10. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  13. ^ "Emotiv EPOC Software Development Kit". Emotiv.com. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Emotiv EPOC Software Development Kit". Emotiv.com. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Emotiv EPOC Software Development Kit". Emotiv.com. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  16. ^ "Game Developers Conference 2008". Pcworld.com. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  17. ^ "Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves | Video on". Ted.com. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 

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