Can DARPA spark a DIY brain-scanning movement?

September 30, 2013

Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (credit: DARPA)

A working prototype of a low-cost electroencephalography device funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) made its debut in New York this weekend, the first step in the agency’s effort to jumpstart a do-it-yourself revolution in neuroscience, The Verge reports.

Dr. Bill Casebeer, a DARPA program manager, is hoping to spark a neuroscience fad within the maker movement. His goal is to return to Maker Faire next year with an ultra simple electroencephalography device for less than $30 that would allow anyone to take research-grade measurements of their own brain.

There are a lot of reasons why DARPA wants to crowdsouce brainwave research. The data can be used to refine soldier training, treat post-traumatic stress disorder, study the effects of torture, triage medical diagnoses on the battlefield, harness the human subconscious to detect threats with 91 percent accuracy, and who knows what else. “DARPA’s mission is to prevent technological surprise for the United States and to create technological surprise for its adversaries,” the agency said in its request for proposals.