Microsoft Research
Computational User Experiences

Brain-Computer Interfaces

While much BCI work has traditionally focused on providing an alternate input mechanism for the (physically) disabled, we have worked on projects exploring the feasibility of reducing the cost of using such technologies so that we can enable more research in the space, but also ultimately deliver utility to able-bodied end users.

To this end, we have shown in a series of studies that we can use the electroencephalograph, or EEG, to classify both general task activity but also cognitive or working memory load with high accuracies (up to the 90% range for 3 task classifications). This is true even when using small temporal windows (2-4 seconds), very little training data (order of 5-10 minutes), simple EEG equipment (2-4 channels), and relatively simple computational techniques. We have also shown that some of the models we build generalize across task variants and users, which bodes well for real-world use.

 

Project Team

Exploring Low-Cost BCIs for the Masses

While much BCI work has traditionally focused on providing an alternate input mechanism for the (physically) disabled, we have worked on projects exploring the feasibility of reducing the cost of using such technologies so that we can enable more research in the space, but also ultimately deliver utility to able-bodied end users.

To this end, we have shown in a series of studies that we can use the electroencephalograph, or EEG, to classify both general task activity but also cognitive or working memory load with high accuracies (up to the 90% range for 3 task classifications). This is true even when using small temporal windows (2-4 seconds), very little training data (order of 5-10 minutes), simple EEG equipment (2-4 channels), and relatively simple computational techniques. We have also shown that some of the models we build generalize across task variants and users, which bodes well for real-world use.

Human-Aided Computing

In addition to exploring the feasibility of BCIs for user state evaluation, we have also started to develop novel applications that use BCIs as an information source. Human-Aided Computing is an approach that uses brain sensing technologies to measure the presence and outcomes of implicit cognitive processing, processing that users perform automatically and may not even be aware of. In this work, we demonstrate a proof-of-concept system that uses cognitive data measured with an electroencephalograph, or EEG, to classify images (e.g. into faces, animate objects, and inanimate objects) shown to a user, even when the user is not told to do the task.

 

Publications

Brain-Computer Interaction: Applying our Minds to Human-Computer Interaction

Desney S Tan, Anton Nijholt (eds)

Springer-Verlag: London. ISBN 987-1-84996-271-1, e-ISBN 978-1-84996-272-8, 2010

Complementary Computing for Visual Tasks: Meshing Computer Vision with Human Visual Processing

Ashish Kapoor, Desney S Tan, Pradeep Shenoy, Eric Horvitz

IEEE Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition 2008

Combining Brain Computer Interfaces with Vision for Object Categorization

Ashish Kapoor, Pradeep Shenoy, Desney S Tan

IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2008

Feasibility and Pragmatics of Classifying Working Memory Load with an Electroencephalograph

David Grimes, Desney S Tan, Scott Hudson, Pradeep Shenoy, Rajesh Rao

CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Human-Aided Computing: Utilizing Implicit Human Processing to Classify Images

Pradeep Shenoy, Desney S Tan

CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Brain-Computer Interfaces for Human-Computer Interaction and Games

Anton Nijholt, Desney S Tan, Brendan Allison, Jose del R Millan, Bernhard Graimann, Melody Moore Jackson

Workshop at CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Playing with your Brain: Brain-Computer Interfaces and Games

Anton Nijholt, Desney S Tan

Organizing paper for Brainplay Workshop at Advances in Computer Entertainment 2007

Using a Low-Cost Electroencephalograph for Task Classification in HCI Research

Johnny C Lee, Desney S Tan

19th ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, pp. 81-90, 2006

Press

Giving Back to the Machines

digit, 22 January 2007

Microsoft's Investigation into the Subconscious

MarketWatch from DowJones, 18 January 2008

The Year in Hardware

MIT Technology Review, 26 December 2007

I Spy with my AI, Something Beginning with T(hought)!

Information Technology Magazine, 1 October 2007

Work on Paralysis Shows Just How Hard it is to Read Minds

Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2007

Teaching Computers to Read Minds

MIT Technology Review, 15 August 2007

Human-Aided Computing: Microsoft Researchers are Trying to Harness Untapped Brain Power

MIT Technology Review, 22 June 2007

Computer Will Try to Adjust to Your Moods: This is your Brain Plugged In

Puget Sound Business Journal, 19 May 2006

Software Notebook: Helping Users Peer into the Minds of Users

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 March 2006

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