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Home > News > BR41N.IO: a Sparks inspired hackathon at Ars Electronica 2017

BR41N.IO: a Sparks inspired hackathon at Ars Electronica 2017

  • BR41N.IO

The BR41N.IO Brain-Computer Interface Designers Hackathon has been created in collaboration with Ars Electronica to show current and future developments and unlimited possibilities of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) in creative or scientific fields.

Students and enthusiasts of Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, Neurotechnology, Design and Arts choose their favorite Hackathon project that challenges them to collaborate intensively as an interdisciplinary team. They program or build their own fully functional EEG-based Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) and learn how artificial intelligence, life science, art and technology become a unity to evolve innovative and exceptional BCI headpieces. There’ll be a lot of equipment on site such as sewing machines, robots, orthosis, drones and even backhoes to be controlled by the user’s thoughts only. 

Why has the Agent Unicorn been inspirational for this series of hackathons? What aspects of the idea, research and possible implementation caught your attention? Which one(s) did you want to develop through these activities?

Anouk Wipprecht is a Hi-Tech Fashion Designer who combines fashion and technology with arts, engineering, science and user experience design. With her headpiece “Agent Unicorn” (developed during a Sparks residency at Ars Electronica FutureLab), she created a playful unicorn shaped device for ADHD children in order to help them and their therapists understand what might trigger them and learn their individual distractions. Agent Unicorn has g.SAHARA EEG electrodes inside that measures brain signals from the children. Once a signal gets really strong, the camera inside turns on and starts recording the child’s experience. 

This project is the perfect example of how arts, neuroscience and human behavior can merge together and create an expressive, playful and helpful device for therapy and learning purposes. Agent Unicorn shows us the importance of free movement during BCI experiments, because human-centered research doesn’t stay in artificial environments any more but moves outside the lab to the real world. With the BR41N.IO Hackathon Series, we aim to push the creative development for BCI systems where users are able to move through their real lives wearing a BCI.

Photo: Courtesy of Anouk Wipprecht / Local Androids

In your opinion, why is it important to mingle people with different background (engineers, programmers, physicians, graphic designers, neuroscience specialists and media arts enthusiasts…) when it comes to future health and healthcare?

Every product development consists of different steps. There has to be a problem first that you want to solve. Then, you create a concept or a plan of how you want to solve your problem before you actually program or build your solution. And every product needs a design so that end-users can work with it. In this development circle, people with different backgrounds work together in order to create one solution. During the BR41N.IO Hackathon, participants should work together, learn from each other’s expertise and understand what’s important when you create something new and innovative. Another reason is that Brain-Computer Interface Technology is often used in clinical environments, it is kind of hidden. We want people to convene and to dip into BCI technology trying out new ideas.

Photo: g.tec medical engineering GmbH

g.tec is the organiser of BR41N.IO hackathons: what’s in there for a medical engineering company like yours? What does the citizens’ perspective bring in your activities?

People with different backgrounds think differently of BCI. For therapists or physicians, a BCI helps to understand the patient’s condition. Disabled people think of BCI as a tool to control their environment. Artists might think of it as another way of expression. Kids will have the most fantastic ideas about it. And others would see BCI as a future way of interacting with devices or humans. Everyone has different expectations and ideas of BCI and we want to gain a broader understanding of BCI from other fields than neuroscience. 

The Ars Electronica Festival is the perfect showcase to organize a BR41N.IO Hackathon because it is all about arts, technology, life science and society, and how they influence each other. This year, Artificial Intelligence is the theme which is perfect since Machine Learning is part of our BCI systems. They learn from user’s brain activity in order to process and analyze EEG better and more individual than ever before. We aim to educate everyone who is interested in BCI with learning by doing and unique experience that comes with it during the Festival. We want to raise awareness among citizens and show the possibilities of Brain-Computer Interface in the most vivid way. BCI is very much present in research or universities but less in daily lives. We want to bring BCI to the front stage and let people know of this exciting and fascinating technology. 


Sign up now: BR41N.IO at the Ars Electronica Festival
September 8-9, 2017, POSTCITY Linz/Austria
Participants of the Hackathon will receive an Ars Electronica Festival Pass for free
More information and registration:

Photo: g.tec medical engineering GmbH

Events date: 
Friday, September 8, 2017 to Saturday, September 9, 2017