After my 9 months Artists-in-Labs residency at the Native Systems Group of the Computer Science Institute at ETH Zurich, I was granted the opportunity to stay at the lab to contribute my media art and hands-on experience with smart body sensors and software to the ongoing E.U. research OPTIMI.

I created soundscapes for the neurofeedback training application and tested prototypes for the pilot studies. I had acquired a lot of ease with the prototypes and became experienced enough that I helped project partners and pilot study participants troubleshoot system problems and user-experience issues. This amplified my own cognitive friction associated with technological complexity and with these experiences my idea to create The Ball came about.

Online Predictive Tools for Intervention in Mental Illness (OPTIMI)

OPTIMI project leader Dennis Majoe working on an EEG sensor and wearing an ECG sensor

low energy wireless embedded systems

OPTIMI project leader Dennis Majoe working on an EEG sensor and wearing an ECG sensor

EEG brain sensor

Sensor prototype: 3 dry electrodes FP1, FP2 and FP0 plus ear ground, RF wireless communication to USB dongle, contactless inductive battery charging.

OPTIMI Smart EEG sensor


What is neurofeedback?

neurofeedback training

Engineer Kevin Collins and PhD student Hong Peng presenting the neurofeedback training application to Prof. Jürg Gutknecht, Head of the Native Systems Group.

OPTIMI study in Valencia Spain

pilot study

Assisting psychology researcher and pilot study participant with the neurofeedback sensors and software in Valencia, Spain.

Is more tech better?

Neurofeedback with EEG sensors

Neurofeedback is a method for self-training of the brain mediated by real-time display of the amplitude of selected brain frequencies using EEG sensors. Translated into a real-time feedback, it rewards the user when some desired brain activity is produced, as an encouragement to maintain and amplify this achieved mind-state. Training over a period of time induces long-lasting effects in the brain and an enactive knowledge of one’s own psychological mechanisms 1. Specific brainwave frequencies can be trained, just like one can physically train specific muscles in sport. Many studies and reviews have been published on the relationship between the Alpha frequency brain activity and topics like relaxation 2 and meditation 3 and neurofeedback for Alpha enhancement showed successful results for stress relief 4.

EEG neurofeedback

MA Systems + Native Systems Lab ETH Zurich
OPTIMI E.U. project 2012

Is more tech better?

HRV biofeedback with ECG sensors

OPTIMI HRV biofeedback prototype

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback mobile app mockup
HRV biofeedback for mobile

OPTIMI HRV biofeedback application
Mockup for iPhone 3GS

enhancing alpha brain frequency with eyes open

Dim Screen Study

Alpha brainwave peaks when eyes are closed and as more as the mind calms down. But can light and colour positively enhance Alpha frequency amplitude while neurofeedback training eyes open?  I conducted this little study with video screens and strobe lights with colleagues at the lab.

Project Details

The OPTIMI research involved depression detection and prevention by recording physiological data with sensors for monitoring and biofeedback for improvement. As a research assistant I created sonic feedbacks (soundscapes) for the lab’s Alpha enhancement neurofeedback system, tested sensor and software prototypes, made recommendations to improve user experience and produced tutorial videos for the studies and project review. Furthermore I assisted technically the psychology researchers and their participants during the pilot studies and presented the project's Body Area Network in an e-health workshop.

  • Data Analysis
  • E.U. research
  • Neurofeedback
  • Sonic Interaction
  • Usability Testing
  • UX Research
  • Video