Current brain-computer interface software is often tailored to the needs of scientists and technicians and therefore complex to allow for versatile use. To facilitate home use of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) a multifunctional P300 BCI with a graphical user interface intended for non-expert set-up and control was designed and implemented. The system includes applications for spelling, web access, entertainment, artistic expression and environmental control. In addition to new software, it also includes new hardware for the recording of electroencephalogram (EEG) signals. The EEG system consists of a small and wireless amplifier attached to a cap that can be equipped with gel-based or dry contact electrodes. The system was systematically evaluated with a healthy sample, and targeted end users of BCI technology i.e. people with a varying degree of motor impairment tested the BCI in a series of individual case studies. Usability was assessed in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. Feedback of users was gathered with structured questionnaires. Two groups of healthy participants completed an experimental protocol with the gel-based and the dry contact electrodes (N=10 each). The results demonstrated that all healthy participants gained control over the system and achieved satisfactory to high accuracies with both gel-based and dry electrodes (average error rates of 6 and 13%). Average satisfaction ratings were high, but certain aspects of the system such as the wearing comfort of the dry electrodes and design of the cap, and speed (in both groups) were criticized by some participants. Six potential end users tested the system during supervised sessions. The achieved accuracies varied greatly from no control to high control with accuracies comparable to that of healthy volunteers. Satisfaction ratings of the two end-users that gained control of the system were lower as compared to healthy participants. The advantages and disadvantages of the BCI and its applications are discussed and suggestions are presented for improvements to pave the way for user friendly BCIs intended to be used as assistive technology by persons with severe paralysis.
Käthner, I., Halder, S., Hintermüller, C., Espinosa, A., Guger, C., Miralles, F., … Kübler, A. (2017). A multifunctional brain-computer interface intended for home use: An evaluation with healthy participants and potential end users with dry and gel-based electrodes. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 11(MAY). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2017.00286