Researchers Develop VR Headset with Brain Activity Tracking for Immersive Experiences

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a modified virtual reality headset that can measure brain activity. By installing a noninvasive electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor in a Meta VR headset, the team can study how the brain reacts to various stimuli, such as hints and stressors, during immersive VR experiences.

The potential applications for this device are wide-ranging. It could be used to help individuals with anxiety or to measure attention and mental stress levels in aviators using flight simulators. Additionally, it allows humans to see the world through the eyes of a robot, providing valuable insights into human-robot interactions.

The current VR and EEG sensor devices on the market are expensive and uncomfortable for long periods of wear. The researchers aimed to address these issues by creating a spongy electrode made of soft, conductive materials that are more comfortable and extend the potential wearing time. The modified headset features electrodes on the top strap and forehead pad, as well as a flexible circuit with conductive traces. An EEG recording device is attached to the back of the headset.

This technology will also be utilized in a new robot delivery network project at UT Austin, which aims to study human-robot interactions on a large scale. The VR headsets will be used by individuals traveling with robots or in a remote observatory, allowing them to see from the robot’s perspective. The VR EEG headset will also measure the mental load of this observation over extended periods, ensuring the safety of the operators.

To test the effectiveness of the VR EEG headset, the researchers developed a driving simulation game in collaboration with brain-machine interface expert José del R. Millán. The EEG measures the brain activity of users as they make driving decisions, providing insights into their level of attention.

The researchers have filed preliminary patent paperwork for the EEG technology and are open to partnering with VR companies to create a built-in version of the device. The research team includes members from various engineering departments and institutions.

In conclusion, the modified VR headset with EEG sensors developed by the researchers at The University of Texas at Austin opens up exciting possibilities for studying brain activity and reactions in immersive VR experiences. This breakthrough has the potential to benefit individuals with anxiety, aviators using flight simulators, and those involved in human-robot interactions.

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