OpenBCI stands for Open-source Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). Open BCI harnesses the electrical signals of the human brain and body to further understand and expand who we are as humans. Their versatile and affordable biosensing system can be used to sample electrical brain activity (EEG), muscle activity (EMG), heart rate (ECG), body movement, and much more. As their community continues to grow, so does the range of possibilities of what they can discover and create.
OpenBCI believes that we will only discover what makes us who we are through an open forum of shared knowledge and concerted effort, by people from a variety of backgrounds. They work to harness the power of the open source movement to accelerate ethical innovation of human-computer interface technologies.
Hive Mind’s Telepathic Discussion Using OpenBCI
Two performers are using OpenBCI for a performance art piece called Hive Mind. Hive Mind is a peek into the future of augmented cooperative cognition. Performers engage the audience in an on-stage discussion in which no words are spoken. Instead, the brain rhythms of each performer generate pulses of light and surround sound at frequencies corresponding to bands of the performer’s brain activity, creating a “brainwave conversation.” As one performer’s brainwaves become the stimuli for the other performer’s brain patterns, a public brainwave-driven conversation unfolds between the performers.
Neuroscientific research shows that rhythmic stimuli can to alter perception, reaction times, and memory formation. Thus, viewers brain waves mimic these pulses, creating an immersive environment that transports the audience to altered states of consciousness. By donning the OpenBCI electroencephalography (EEG) monitor, the performers’ unique brain oscillation signatures is simultaneously influenced by and influencing neural activity. Together, the performers and audience go through different induced brain states and altered perceptions.This has broad implications for the potential future of human cognition and communication.
The performance shifts between zones of primary brainwave frequencies: beta (focused attention), theta (deep relaxation) and alpha (calm awareness). Using previously documented techniques to manipulate the audience’s dominant EEG frequencies with oscillations of light and sound, the performance enables altered cognitive states as the OpenBCI equipment measures and manipulates the performers’ EEG.
Beyond offering an immersive aesthetic experience, Hive Mind is interested in the possibilities of neuromodulation as a tool for gaining an understanding of the brain and improving lives by optimizing function. Importantly, this performance highlights and displays possibilities for collaborative cognition via direct brain-to-brain communication.
Hive Mind is an interdisciplinary synergy between art and science, using open-source tools such as OpenBCI. The project has raised public discourse around important scientific advances and advances public thinking about how new discoveries are likely to change the way we understand ourselves, our relationship to one another, and the world around us.