So here I am at the end of the Smarter Life Challenge, and I am happy to say that I had a lot of fun and satisfaction along this time. Starting from a "crazy" idea to control appliances by brainwaves, things became more and more realistic up to the point of building a prototype that worked. As I showed in the last update videos I was able to turn on and off a television set, a cable box, and I was able to change channels by only moving my eyes. It all happens from the brain decision to send control signals to eyes to move them left and right, which signals are in the form of electric currents transmitted through the nervous system. These signals activate the muscles that hold the eyes contracting some of them in order to move the eyes. Also eyes are polarized so when they move they change the electric field around them similar to static electricity particles. These electric signals initiated by the brain’s decision to move the eyes are captured by two electrodes (and a third reference one) placed on the forehead, amplified, and processed inside PSoC4 chip, which then computes a control pattern that is transmitted in the form of infrared light to the receivers inside the TV-set and cable box. In a similar way generated infrared pattern can turn on/off any appliance that can be plugged into generic infrared controlled power outlets (available on eBay), so in one of my videos I showed how I turned on and off an electric heater, a radio, and a lamp.
A major contributor to my success in this project was the powerful and simple to use PSoC Creator design and debug tool. I found PSoC Creator easy to use allowing me fast system design and prototyping. I was able to go through multiple development iterations (design, compile, programming, testing) in a significant short time, which helped me to finish my project in only eight weekends.
PsoC Creators’s placement of blocks and routing them in a schematic type platform was very easy to use for a person like me who is primarily visual driven - color coded analog and digital routing very helpful, and the easy configuration of blocks makes this tool very powerful.
Additionally in my case as a beginner the getting started material and examples were very useful. Later I found features that impressed me: right-click and selecting open datasheet and bringing up the section of the datasheet that describes that particular block is a very useful feature saving significant amount of time that would normally take to dig and scroll through a 100+ pages datasheet.
And starting a project from either an empty template or a specific device and functional template saves a lot of time in the design process. I was surprised to find example projects for my specific Pioneer Kit that I was working with; they helped me a lot at the beginning. First I just compile and program them into the kit, and they just worked as described.
I found the PSoC4 chip as a simple and flexible system on chip that allows quick configuration to perform various tasks. PSoC5 on the Pioneer Kit brings more analog functionality which made it attractive to me for porting the front end analog amplifier from external module to inside PSoC5, which I started to work on.
So what is next?
My plan is to expand this project by creating a second version that will add two more electrodes one above the eyes and one below to sense vertical movements, so four electrodes will connect to the four operational amplifiers inside a PSoC5LP chip, then will connect deferentially to two analog-to-digital converters inside PSoC5LP and thus making possible the "analog" control of a computer cursor by just moving the eyes instead of using a mouse.
Then I would like to transform this PSoC5LP expanded version and the original PSoC4 projects into two products that will look like head-bands with electrodes placed on the forehead (with variant of goggles type headband for electrodes above and below the eyes for the PSoC5LP expanded version). The PSoC chip will be in the center (plus supporting external components) and the whole system will be powered from a 3V lithium battery (the type that is used on motherboards of computers). These two products will provide a low cost portable solution for brainwaves controlled home appliances and computers.
Why building a product that controls appliances and computer from eye movements?
Because there are people who just want to have fun controlling the surrounding appliances by moving their eyes, and there are also people with medical conditions like paralyzed or with muscular dystrophy who can improve their lives significantly if they get access to controlling appliances around them and having access to a computer and Internet.
These are my plans and I hope I will have the time and energy to get there.
In conclusion I would like to thank the organizers of the Smarter Life Challenge for providing me this opportunity to be creative and have fun the same time, for providing a free Pioneer Kit and free components for this project, and I would like to thank Cypress representatives for providing technical support for various issues that I ran into while working on this project.
And also I would like to thank all participants for creating such a nice atmosphere on the blog by posting updates of their work and commenting on the work of others. To me this blog was a significant source of energy and motivation, and every morning I checked with excitement to see how many people read my update and what comments I've got. This was the "fuel" that I needed to keep me functioning along this project.
Thank you again and best wishes to everyone,