The Science Behind EMOTIV’s Technology

5 min readMar 18, 2022

Spatial Resolution and Whole Brain Sensing

The brain is a very complex system. The frontal cortex, the region where most of your conscious thoughts and decisions are made, conducts a lot less than a tenth of the total activity in the brain.

Planning, modeling of your surroundings, interpretation of sensory inputs up to and including your perception of reality, memory processing and storage and the basic drivers of your moods and emotions occur in many functional regions distributed around the brain. This includes the visual cortex at the rear, temporal cortex at the sides, parietal cortex behind the crown of your head and the limbic system deep inside the brain. The limbic system controls your basic moods and emotions, your fight/flight response and deeper long-term memory encoding, as well as control of basic bodily functions such as breathing and heartbeat.

Most of these deeper functions interact intimately with different parts of the cortex (the outer layer which is accessible to EEG measurements). However, the interaction is quite complex and distributed. In order to map the true activity of the brain, it is very important to measure signals from many different cortical structures located all around the brain surface: it is not possible to map these signals purely from the frontal and temporal regions. Determination of the user’s complete mental state is very poorly approximated unless signals from the rear of the brain are also considered.

With proper coverage and EEG electrode configuration, it is possible to reconstruct a source model of all important brain regions and to see their interplay. Alternative systems missing these critical signals will tell less than half of the story. These systems are generally restricted to determining levels of consciousness, the amount and intensity of processing and, in some cases, the left/right hemispheric imbalance in frontal signals. While these are useful in some contexts, they provide a very limited and inaccurate view of the user’s state of mind.

Emotiv has been assisting with worldwide neuroscience research since 2011 and is a recognized pioneer and market leader in this field enabling people everywhere to understand their brain better. This has the potential for incredible brain enhancement advances: from the past shockingly narrow minded approach to revolutionise the way we learn, do business and heal disease.

EMOTIV’s Brainwear® devices have been developed for research and development applications. We have maintained an uncompromising approach to the design and development of our mobile EEG systems and we believe that spatial resolution — detecting activity across the main cortices of the brain — is crucial to obtaining high-quality data. We have a wealth of data that has been accumulated and analyzed and our detection algorithms, we believe, are second to none.

Our EEG sensor tip materials are safe, easy and comfortable to use for extended periods of time and all removable parts are replaceable, providing longevity and performance.

Our technology is backed and trusted by the scientific, academic, engineering and media communities which has been validated via scores of independent research papers.

3D Brain Visualizer

Video capture of EMOTIV’s 3D Brain Visualizer application showing activity over the entire brain and across the four major frequencies — Alpha, Beta, Theta, Delta, using a 5 channel mobile EEG headset, the EMOTIV Insight.

3D Brain Visualizer

Note: This is not possible with single channel EEG systems that are limited to detections of the frontal lobe only.

Detection Algorithms

EMOTIV offers three different kinds of detection algorithms, all of them built on extensive scientific studies to develop accurate machine learning algorithms which classify and grade the intensity of different conditions.

Performance Metrics — EMOTIV currently measures 6 different cognitive states in real time — Excitement (Arousal), Interest (Valence), Stress (Frustration), Engagement/Boredom, Attention (Focus) and Meditation (Relaxation). We continue to improve and refine our performance metrics algorithms as well as build new detections which show performance relative to overall behaviour..

These detections were developed based on rigorous experimental studies involving volunteers for each state, where subjects were taken through experiences to elicit different levels of the desired state. They were wired up with many additional biometric measures (heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, blood volume flow, skin impedance and eye tracking), observed and recorded by a trained psychologist and they also self-reported. EMOTIV performance metrics have been validated in many independent peer-reviewed studies.

Mental Commands — based on unique and highly efficient methods, EMOTIV has developed a system for users to train direct mental commands where the user trains the system to recognize thought patterns related to different desired outcomes, such as moving objects or making them disappear. The system can be trained to recognize a single command in less than 20 seconds.

Facial Expressions — muscle artifacts, which commonly get rejected in laboratory EEG studies, are diverted and classified to map the activation in different muscle groups and eye movement events. Our universal detections can be fine tuned for each individual to indicate 12 different facial expressions or events. Individuals with partial paralysis or unusual musculature can custom-train the activations. These events can be used to animate an avatar, detect specific responses and they may be tasked to execute commands.

Combined with the on-board motion sensor, we can provide a hands-free brain-controlled mouse, adjust music volume or track skip depending on mood, and many other options.

All this can be embedded into third party applications using our API platform, Cortex.

Backed by Science

The accuracy of our technology has been validated by independent studies many times over. The following graphs show an independent comparison of a clinical grade system alongside the EMOTIV EPOC+ in an N100 auditory evoked potential study:

independent comparison of a clinical grade system alongside the EMOTIV EPOC+ in an N100 auditory evoked potential study

The EMOTIV EPOC+ produced statistically comparable data to the clinical system, which costs $60,000. Click here to access the journal paper by Badcock et al., PeerJ, 2013.

EPOC X which was released in 2020 (at $849) is our most credible and cost-effective mobile EEG Brainwear® device reimagined. EPOC X has been designed with a rotating headband that can be positioned on top or at the rear of the head. This redesign enables more data collection opportunities — including sleep studies — and comfortable support for users with a head restraint or those needing headrest support. We also modified the design to include an opening at the rear of each sensor. The rear opening makes it easier to rehydrate each sensor while in place; reducing interruptions and enabling experiments to run for a longer duration.

Check out our complete range of EEG Brainwear® devices.

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EMOTIV is a neuroinformatics company advancing understanding of the human brain using electroencephalography (EEG).