From Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Information icon1.png This page is a stub, please expand it if you have more information.
Basic Info
Type Input Device
Subtype Brain-computer interface
Developer OpenBCI
Sensors  ???


The VR industry is brimmed with futuristic headsets, haptic sensors, and motion tracking controllers. What it sorely needs right now is the capability to channel human thoughts into the virtual world itself. Open BCI, while not directly involved in the VR industry, may provide just the system to do so.

Securing over $168,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, OpenBCI or Open Source Brain-Computer Interface created a low-cost EEG sensing board that captures brain signal into digital data. It targets researchers, makers, and hobbyist all over the world.

The OpenBCI Cyton has undergone a few revision and retailed at $399 per unit. Along the line, OpenBCI also launched two major products, namely UltraCortex Mark IV ($349.99), an EEG headset and OpenBCI Ganglion, an affordable 4 channel sensing board at $99 per unit.


Open BCI stands out with its ability to provide biosensing monitoring with low cost, high quality biosensing hardware. Powered by industrial microcontroller PIC32 and also Arduino compatible, the Cyton biosensing board allows real-time acquisition of brain, heart and muscle readings from electrodes input with the option to store it on a local storage or transferring to software.

The UltraCortex “Mark IV” is a revolutionary EEG headset that eliminates the use of conventional electrodes and conductive paste. The dry sensor technology allows the user to easily put on and transmit data with Bluetooth BLE technology. It is claimed that the UltraCortex headset produced research grade EEG reading.


The Cyton biosensing board is the primary data acquisition board for the OpenBCI platform. It’s powered by the PIC32 microcontroller and featured 8 channels of biodata input. Open BCI Cyton has a 24-bit resolution ADC chip with a 16kHz sample rate. It also supports wireless communication for data transfer. It can be connected to PC through a USB to serial FTDI chip.

Open BCI has also released the Ganglion board, a scaled down cheaper version with 4 biosensing channel. It uses Simplebee as both the microcontroller and wireless module. The Simplebee an advanced RF module and is comparably cheaper than the RFDuino in the Cyton board. It also enables over-the-air programming.

The UltraCortex “Mark IV” is a 3D printable headset that comes in 3 sizes (42-50cm, 42-58cm, 58-65 cm) according to the head circumference. It is able to support up to 35 electrode location and is built for comfort. As it is produced from a 3D printer, you can also have the option to print it out and assemble for a cheaper cost.

Technical Specifications

Cyton Board Specs:

  • Power with 3-6V DC Battery ONLY
  • PIC32MX250F128B Micrcontroller with chipKIT UDB32-MX2-DIP bootloader
  • ADS1299 Analog Front End
  • LIS3DH 3 axis Accelerometer
  • RFduino BLE radio
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Voltage Regulation (3V3, +2.5V, -2.5V)
  • Board Dimensions 2.41” x 2.41” (octogon has 1” edges)
  • Mount holes are 1/16” ID, 0.8” x 2.166” on center

Ganglion Board Specs

Power with 3.3V to 12V DC battery ONLY

  • Current Draw: 14mA when idle, 15mA connected and streaming data
  • Simblee BLE Radio module (Arduino Compatible)
  • MCP3912 Analog Front End
  • LIS2DH 3 axis Axellerometer
  • MicroSD Card Slot
  • Board Dimensions 2.41” x 2.41” (octogon has 1” edges)
  • Mount holes are 1/16” ID, 0.8” x 2.166” on center


The following third party software could be used for research and data analysis of the readings gathered from OpenBCI system.

  • Matlab
  • MNE-Python
  • Neuromore
  • Open Vibe

Developers who wished to build upon the open platform of OpenBCI can do so with the following SDK

  • Processing (Java)
  • Javascript(Node.js)
  • Arduino
  • Python

The company also provides the OpenBCI GUI software meant for data processing, graphs, and visualization. The software is available for FREE for Windows, Linux, and Mac although users are encouraged to pledge a donation.

The firmware for the Cyton and Ganglion board are also available for download if you wished to modify the original code.


AlphaWave is a mobile app developed by the company to demonstrate the basic capability of the OpenBCI system. It is available for Android and iOS user.


OpenBCI provides an active platforms for developers,

It’s community page features up to date posts, members and has a special start-a-challenge section.


Variety of accessories could be purchased from the company’s online store.

  • Gold Cup Electrodes
  • Conductive Paste
  • Header Pin to Touch Proof Electrode Adapter
  • EMG/ECG Snap Electrode Cables
  • EMG/ECG Foam Solid Gel Electrodes
  • MyoWare Muscle Sensor
  • Pulse Sensor (Heart-Rate Monitor)
  • CSR 4.0 Bluetooth Dongle


OpenBCI was founded by Joel Murphy and Connor Russomano after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014. The objective was to create affordable, high-quality EEG biosensing hardware for people of all background.


2014 - OpenBCI founded, OpenBCI 32 Bit Board was launched. 2016 - Ganglion and UltraCortex Mark IV shipped.