Open-Source Concealed EEG Data Collection for Brain-Computer-Interfaces -- Real-World Neural Observation Through OpenBCI Amplifiers with Around-the-Ear cEEGrid Electrodes

Michael Thomas Knierim, Christoph Berger, Pierluigi Reali

Observing brain activity in real-world settings offers exciting possibilities like the support of physical health, mental well-being, and thought-controlled interaction modalities. The development of such applications is, however, strongly impeded by poor accessibility to research-grade neural data and by a lack of easy-to-use and comfortable sensors. This work presents the cost-effective adaptation of concealed around-the-ear EEG electrodes (cEEGrids) to the open-source OpenBCI EEG signal acquisition platform to provide a promising new toolkit. An integrated system design is described, that combines publicly available electronics components with newly designed 3D-printed parts to form an easily replicable, versatile, single-unit around-the-ear EEG recording system for prolonged use and easy application development. To demonstrate the system's feasibility, observations of experimentally induced changes in visual stimulation and mental workload are presented. Lastly, as there have been no applications of the cEEGrids to HCI contexts, a novel application area for the system is investigated, namely the observation of flow experiences through observation of temporal Alpha power changes. Support for a link between temporal Alpha power and flow is found, which indicates an efficient engagement of verbal-analytic reasoning with intensified flow experiences, and specifically intensified task absorption.

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