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Performance of the Emotiv Epoc headset for P300-based applications

Performance of the Emotiv Epoc headset for P300-based applications

Duvinage, M., Castermans, T., Petieau, M., Hoellinger, T., Cheron, G. & Dutoit, T.
BioMedical Engineering OnLine

For two decades, EEG-based Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) systems have been widely studied in research labs. Now, researchers want to consider out-of-the-lab applications and make this technology available to everybody. However, medical-grade EEG recording devices are still much too expensive for end-users, especially disabled people. Therefore, several low-cost alternatives have appeared on the market. The Emotiv Epoc headset is one of them. Although some previous work showed this device could suit the customer’s needs in terms of performance, no quantitative classification-based assessments compared to a medical system are available.

This paper aims at statistically comparing a medical-grade system, the ANT device, and the Emotiv Epoc headset by determining their respective performances in a P300 BCI using the same electrodes. On top of that, a review of previous Emotiv studies and a discussion on practical considerations regarding both systems are proposed. Nine healthy subjects participated in this experiment during which the ANT and the Emotiv systems are used in two different conditions: sitting on a chair and walking on a treadmill at constant speed.

The Emotiv headset performs significantly worse than the medical device; observed effect sizes vary from medium to large. The Emotiv headset has higher relative operational and maintenance costs than its medical-grade competitor.

Although this low-cost headset is able to record EEG data in a satisfying manner, it should only be chosen for non critical applications such as games, communication systems, etc. For rehabilitation or prosthesis control, this lack of reliability may lead to serious consequences. For research purposes,
the medical system should be chosen except if a lot of trials are available or when the Signal-to-Noise Ratio is high. This also suggests that the design of a specific low-cost EEG recording system for critical applications and research is still required.

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