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Category Winner

2018

BrainWaveBank – Project Turin

STUDIO / DESIGNER

Bigsmall

Andrew Hunter

www.bigsmalldesign.co.uk

CATEGORY

Consumer Products

Product Design

CONTRIBUTORS

Andrew Hunter (Lead Designer) Stephen McGilloway – Design Director – Bigsmall Design, Ronan Cunningham – CEO BrainWaveBank, Brian Murphy – CSO BrainWaveBank  WINNER

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

With an aging population, greater understanding of dementia and other degenerative brain illnesses has become a priority amongst medical researchers. Tracking of brain performance is a key tool in this research, using electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors. By placing sensors over specific areas of the brain they can observe different brain functions and monitor cognitive performance over time.

Current EEG devices are confined to lab environments and must be fitted by trained professionals, this greatly limits the size and duration of these studies.

BrainWaveBank are allowing people to track their cognitive health in the comfort of their own home. Leveraging early adoption of a younger audience and tracking data over a larger sample size and longer duration, BrainWaveBank will be able to help better understand these illnesses and identify them earlier than ever before. Early intervention will help to improve the user’s quality of life whilst also reducing medical costs.

How the brief was fulfilled

This was a multi-faceted project, with collaborative input from a range of professionals from different disciplines; BrainWaveBank providing data analysis and insight from the medical research field, SensoTeq delivering electronic design, EyeSparks working on the associated apps and games, with BigSmall responsible for the mechanical and industrial design.

A non-MDD headset was designed with a much friendlier design language than existing offerings. The EEG sensors are housed in individual holders which allowing effortless connection during assembly, and reliable positioning during operation. The sensors are held in position using a dual-layer neoprene net. It is essential that the sensors are placed over precise regions of the head, neoprene allows the headset to adapt to a wide range of head shapes and sizes, ensuring that the sensors remain in the correct position – removing complexity of this positioning from the end user. Should any of the sensors be incorrectly seated, a visual representation of the affected area is mirrored on the tablet to inform the user. The sensors are easily reached and adjusted if required.

The electronics are split into three separate areas to keep the headset slim and further provide intuitive placement when wearing the device. Sensors are wired through the neoprene net to the processing unit in the left earpiece. Both ear pieces are designed to fit comfortably behind the ears, leaving the ear itself uncovered for compatibility with earphones or other hearing aids. The battery is housed in the right earpiece to provide a balanced feel. The earpieces use different textures and materials to indicate the natural touchpoints of the device to help guide the user when fitting the headset unsighted.
Digital processing and Bluetooth communications are housed in a rear casing, which finds a natural anchoring position at the nape of the neck to provide secure and accurate positioning.

The user plays accompanying games on a tablet whilst wearing the device, sensor data is transmitted to the tablet and uploaded to a private and secure web portal for analysis. Each step of the session is clearly communicated to the user through pictorial, text, and verbal feedback on the tablet.

The first production units have been used to conduct trials in the US; China and throughout Europe, thereby beginning to build user data for analysis.

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