Exploring the human brain through VR.

Introduction
Roles
Collaborator(s)

WAVR is a meditative mixed reality experience, which uses EEG/VR technology to monitor alpha & beta brainwave frequency and trigger commands on the VR application, essentially allowing users to control the virtual environment using their brain activity.

PRODUCT DESIGN
VR DEVELOPMENT
Tech Stack

Sean Kim

(Product Designer, EEG Technologist) 

Hardware
Achievements
 

Unreal Engine 4

Max/MSP

Python

Processing

Oculus Rift

OpenBCI Ultracortex

OpenBCI Ganglion Board

Arduino Uno

Duration

1 year 2 months

World Maker Faire, Editor's Choice Award
NYU MakerSpace Prototyping Fund
NYVR Expo Showcase @ Javits Center
Bank of America & Reuters VR Showcase
NY1 Spectrum News TV Interview
NYC Media Lab Showcase @ The New School
NYU SPS Brand Strategy Guest Lecturer
ORF OE1 Radio Interview (Vienna, Austria)
NYU IDM, ITP & XStory Showcases
NYU Official Website (Cover Story)
Promo Video
 

(Courtesy of NYU)

Project Overview

Challenge

The human brain is the most complex object on Earth, and most of us are unaware of its true potential. In the modern world, it is quite common to be suffering from certain psychological and emotional limitations such as ADHD, anxiety, insomnia and lack of motivation. This is due to the simple fact that we do not know how to tell our brain to stop doing what it is doing.

Research Summary

The open-ended interviews have revealed that the average person spends about 20% of their day trying to concentrate (on their work, studies, etc.) and/or to fall asleep. This proves how limited the average person’s control over their brain is. Research shows that by learning how to orchestrate the chemical, physical and functional changes that happen in our brain, we could gain ultimate control over the remaining course of our lives.

Solution

The immersive and protean nature of virtual reality gives it the great potential power of training the human brain to operate in a desired way, at the ideal time.

The initial idea behind the WAVR project was to determine the potential effectiveness of virtual reality in brain training and find out whether it would be possible to significantly improve brain performance through neuroplasticity and virtual reality.

 
Concept Statement

"WAVR is a brain-controlled VR technology that uses biosensors to monitor the fluctuations in alpha and beta waves. The brainwave data triggers commands on the VR application, allowing the user to control virtual objects with their mind.

 

In addition to virtual reality, WAVR engages other physical senses through a vibrating chair, a fan blowing cool air and wafts of perfume." –nyu.edu

How It Works

User Journey

1

Spectator puts on the WAVR headset, sits on the stool and is asked to try and meditate.

Spectator is virtually placed in a landscape with a beautiful lake view. The water is still and the sky is a bit cloudy, but there is no rain or fog.

Setup Diagram

The EEG microcontroller on the back of the headset detects and records the initial brainwave frequency of the spectator via the attached biosensors. At this stage, the average person produces brainwaves at a frequency between 12-15 Hz. (Lo-Beta)

2

The VR environment starts to evolve depending on the changing brain activity of the spectator.

The EEG data is delivered to the VR application through Max/MSP.

If the spectator manages to go into a meditative state, the recorded brainwave frequency drops below 12 Hz (Alpha) triggering a command on the VR application that makes the clouds in the sky dissolve. The sun then gets brighter and new plants start flourishing on the banks of the lake.

If the spectator fails to go into a meditative state and starts thinking faster than before, the brainwave frequency goes above 15 Hz (Beta), triggering a command that makes dark clouds start covering the sun and it eventually starts to rain. If the brainwave frequency stays between 12-15 Hz (Lo-Beta), the VR environment does not change.

3

Spectator experiences changes in their physical environment if they manage to go into a deep meditative state or get too anxious.

If the spectator fails to relax, gets anxious and the brainwave frequency goes above 22 Hz (Hi-Beta), Max sends a command to the Arduino Uno that activates the vibration engine attached to the chair they are sitting on. The physical vibration imitates the feeling of an earthquake.

 

If the spectator manages to go into a deep meditative state and their brainwave frequency drops below 8 Hz (Theta), Max triggers a different command on the same Arduino Uno, which activates the fans and the scent machine placed in front of them. These two working together imitate the feeling of a soft breeze and the beautiful smell of spring flowers.

At the end of the experience, the application calculates the concentration score of the spectator, based on the difference between the recorded brainwave frequency and the ideal frequency at certain checkpoints throughout the experience. The level of improvement in the percentage of the spectator's self-controlled brain activity is determined by comparing the concentration scores recorded after multiple attempts.

Events, Achievements & Press

World Maker Faire 2018
EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD
NY1 SPECTRUM NEWS TV INTERVIEW
  NY1 SPECTRUM NEWS TV INTERVIEW  
NYVR Expo at Javits Center
FEATURED STARTUP STAGE PRESENTATION
Bank of America & Reuters VR Showcase
FEATURED VR STARTUP
NYU Website Cover Story
NYC Media Lab Showcase at The New School
NYU SPS Brand Strategy Course
FEATURED VR STARTUP & GUEST LECTURER
ORF OE1 Radio Interview
INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION (VIENNA, AUSTRIA)
NYU Telecommunications (ITP) Showcase
NYU Digital Media (IDM) Showcase
NYU xStory Showcase
 
Other Projects
 
Other Links