Evaluating the ergonomics of BCI devices for research and experimentation

Ergonomics. 2012;55(5):592-8. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2012.662527. Epub 2012 Apr 16.


The use of brain computer interface (BCI) devices in research and applications has exploded in recent years. Applications such as lie detectors that use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to video games controlled using electroencephalography (EEG) are currently in use. These developments, coupled with the emergence of inexpensive commercial BCI headsets, such as the Emotiv EPOC ( http://emotiv.com/index.php ) and the Neurosky MindWave, have also highlighted the need of performing basic ergonomics research since such devices have usability issues, such as comfort during prolonged use, and reduced performance for individuals with common physical attributes, such as long or coarse hair. This paper examines the feasibility of using consumer BCIs in scientific research. In particular, we compare user comfort, experiment preparation time, signal reliability and ease of use in light of individual differences among subjects for two commercially available hardware devices, the Emotiv EPOC and the Neurosky MindWave. Based on these results, we suggest some basic considerations for selecting a commercial BCI for research and experimentation. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: Despite increased usage, few studies have examined the usability of commercial BCI hardware. This study assesses usability and experimentation factors of two commercial BCI models, for the purpose of creating basic guidelines for increased usability. Finding that more sensors can be less comfortable and accurate than devices with fewer sensors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research*
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Young Adult