Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cause to celebrate

I'm informed that normals do things like go out and drink.   That's precisely what I did last night, since I officially finished Grindhouse's first release:  the Thinking Cap.

What is Grindhouse?  I'm glad you asked.  Grindhouse Wetware is a grinding/biohacking collective that a few others along with me founded in December 2011/January 2012, and is where I "work" as a developer.  We are a self-employed team of developers and enthusiasts, whose aim is to augment the human condition using affordable, open-source technology.  Now, due to real-life shit, I haven't been able to do all too much in the way of advancing us, so I've felt like just dead weight.  However, all of that changed when we assigned me to be the sole developer on the Thinking Cap (our name for a tDCS device).

As I said in that post, I had written and finalized almost all of the code, and drawn up a schematic.  Well, on Friday, I finished debugging the code (after much hair-pulling and a bit of peer-review by another developer), and I packaged it along with the schematic and a readme text into a zip file, and sent it to the other developers.  In other words:  we have our first release, which was almost completely my brainchild!  Not only that, but they want to get my code onto github, or even sourceforge.  Yeah, I had quite good cause to celebrate.

Now, unfortunately, I'm currently living in Argentina, and I don't have enough equipment with me to build my own version of the Thinking Cap just yet.  But, I can give you a quick summary of what the Thinking Cap is, and why it's better than my original prototype.

0000.  The Thinking Cap is designed to fit inside of an actual cap.
0001.  Instead of a constant current, the Cap ramps the current up initially using pulse-width modulation.
0010.  The Cap automatically shuts off the current after 20 minutes (the recommended stimulation time).

Those are just the features I put in v0.1; for the first major release, I hope to cram it with other features, such as added support for transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation.  Although, to my knowledge, there is no evidence that CES achieves its intended goals as of this writing, the possibility that such evidence could be forthcoming is enough to make me want to put it in there anyway.  As for tMS, the purpose of this would be to stimulate parts of the brain that cannot be reached with tDCS.  For example, one could replicate the infamous "God Helmet," where a magnetic field applied to the brain can trigger religious-like experiences.  In other words, you can experience the divine, with no belief in God required!

~Ian

2 comments:

  1. I want this thinking cap for sure. Especially if it incorporates rTMS (though, I don't know how easy that will be. my research has indicated some issues with TMS like seizures)...however, tRNS would be GREAT (totally safe like tDCS, but supposedly doesn't cause habituation). Also, I don't know that you should make it an automatic 20min (just my opinion). I tend to stimulate for 30min at a time. Since the effects can tend to ware off quicker with regular use, a bit longer stimulation may be necessary for some (like crazy stim junkies like me). Cheers mate.

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  2. tMS does have some risks, but I think the increased benefits outweigh them. Some of the things I've seen done with rtMS are nearly mind-blowing.

    Does tRNS stand for transcranial Random Noise Stimulation? If so, that doesn't look like it would be too difficult to design. I've also been wondering about the possibility of incorporating something called Electroconvulsive Stimulation, the point of which actually is to induce seizures, but that sounds like it might fall into the category of "you probably want a spotter to call an ambulance if something goes wrong with this one."

    As for stimulation length, v1.0 actually will have varying stimulation lengths, so you can set it to go for, say, 30 minutes before shutting off, as well.

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