Now, using the existing technology of electroencephalography (EEG) – an interface that measures brain signals – neurologists at the University of Washington have created what they've christened the Encephalophone.
Simply put, the Encephalophone is a cap-like device that collects brain signals and transforms them into musical notes that get played on a paired-up synthesizer.
How the Encephalophone will help the disabled is still a work in progress, but its musical abilities were put to the test by 15 healthy participants recently who had no prior training.
Once the brain cap is donned, the device collects two types of brain signals – one produced in the visual cortex, the other in the motor cortex (the part of the brain that deals with movement). The signal’s frequency is then used to create a musical scale, which can be made to sound like a range of instruments (albeit not exactly a full symphony orchestra) thanks to the paired synthesizer – no hands required to play.
The team now wants to continue working on the device, tweaking it to perfection. Once polished, however, it will not only be a source of fun for the non-musical (or a tool for extremely lazy/wealthy musicians), but it’s hoped that it will have therapeutic benefits for amputees and patients suffering from paralysis or the effects of a brain stroke.