I am using the Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset with the Education Edition SDK. The headset and this SDK run at $2500 together. I recommend this version if you are conducting research that is a) non-commercial and (optionally) b) open to multiple collaborators within your department. And you will also need to be at some form of academic or education institute. Emotiv offers 6 different SDKs to choose from, including the FREE SDKLite. Read up and choose the one that is right for you or your organization.
Why the Emotiv EPOC?
I chose to use the EPOC for my research for a few different reasons. First, it has 14 electrodes and can also measure head rotation. The more you can measure, the more you can do with the signals (well hopefully). The EPOC can be trained to detect conscious thoughts, emotions, and facial expressions. The provided Control Panel is great for viewing sensor contacts, doing some basic training, and just getting acquainted with the headset. The first time you put on the headset and hook it up to the computer, you will feel awesome. Or at least I felt awesome.
|The white outer box is essentially a layer of paper.|
Out of the box
The EPOC comes in a flimsy box that in no way made me feel comfortable with my choice. Upon opening, however, you will find that everything is securely packed. My box contained a headset, a small bottle of solution, a case containing the 16 sensors, a charger, and the Bluetooth connector. Additional sensor packs and headsets can be purchased from the Emotiv Store.
Obtaining the SDK
The software that is available through the Education Edition DOES NOT come in the box. It is available for download, linked to the purchaser's email address, from the Emotiv website. This can be a slight pain in the ass to obtain, but I can say from experience that the Customer Care personnel are both patient and timely in their responses. In my case it took 5 days of correspondence (and a lot of confusion) before I was given access to the Education Edition SDK. If you have a departmental purchasing officer, please do the following to avoid any issues:
- Don't Panic.
- Have the purchaser forward you all emails received from Emotiv about the purchase made. This includes order number (which is actually order ID) and confirmations.
- When you register on the Emotiv site, use your departmental email address. They will check that the emails between purchaser and researcher match (i.e., department.school.edu). Again, the SDK is licensed to your department and not your entire university.
- Do not take everything they say literally. For example, if they ask for the order number, it might not be the thing labeled 'order number' Or if they ask for your school's email ID, they really want your department's email ID that will match the purchaser.
First Things First!
Make sure that your headset turns on before you do anything. If it is not holding a slight charge, then simply plug it in and give it a few minutes. Red light is charging, green light is charged. If you get a blue light when you flip the switch (located on the bottom rear of the headband), then you are set. Once you know the headset turns on, read the digital manual and begin finding that perfectly frustrating level of solution needed for proper conductivity.