Arduino-based, EEG-driven text communicator for quadriplegic patient?

I'm a recent retiree and newb Arduino enthusiast. Tragically, a good friend in otherwise excellent health recently suffered complications from aneurysm surgery and now finds herself completely paralyzed. Only within the past few days has she responded reliably to questions via moving her eyes up and down -- a capability the doctors said her brain injury would make impossible.

Her medical caregivers are intelligent and well-intentioned, but hampered by orthodoxy and limited resources (especially face-to-face patient time). With that in mind, I recently ran across the project described at this link:

Does anyone have any suggestions as to whether a practical communication system might be feasible for my friend by leveraging Arduino, EEG and a simple PC text editor?

Thank you for any leads.

Jeff

Homebrew Do-it-yourself EEG, EKG, and EMG

I don't know anything about the EEG approach and it still sounds like science fiction to me - if there's a working solution already and cheaply available I don't see why you couldn't just take it as-is, but gut feeling is this is unlikely to be something that you could realistically develop for yourself and to me it feels like something that's going to come with a hefty price tag. I've seen Youtube videos of people showing off working prototypes, but that's a big step away from a cheap and reliable solution.

As an alternative you might consider using eye-tracking software. This seems like much easier technology to master and I would be surprised if there wasn't already a working solution available. It would only need a PC with web cam so there's no barrier to tackling the problem, and I expect lots of people have already solved it.

I remember several threads on this forum from people who were actively involved in providing technological solutions for disabled people and you might consider trying to find an organisation like that working in your area. I forget the name(s) but I got the impression it was well organised and with quite a broad reach.

With all due respect, uninformed conceptual speculation isn't helpful. I was asking for help with application.

The science is real. For example (in addition the previously-cited example):

My simplistic understanding is you get a (very) raw signal from EEG sensor hardware. To get something useful from it, FFT is applied.

The TedX talk I saw had someone control an onscreen cube using controlled thought patterns. Have you seen it? http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves.html

The tech is from Emotiv. The annoying thing about their program (last time I looked) is you can only sell software through them, and the kits were pretty expensive.

Based on what I saw them do in the TedX talk, my intution says that it is possible for you to do something useful for your friend, definitely.

A mashup between the concepts in the video and the sort of communication Stephen Hawking, for example, manages via his comm device, would allow for communication.

I think you want a custom developed piece of software rather than a text editor, similar to the software in the video.

And whereas a capable person could bootstrap the brainwave customisation process, you would need someone to sit down with your friend and get the initial config going. ie set up the patterns to control the UI of the config app, then they can continue to develop a command structure to allow complex communication.

I have not looked into it too deeply - the Emotiv setup is there, but rubbed me the wrong way like Apple do. I don't mind closed source or paying good money for good tech, but then you better get out of my way. For you though, this may be an ideal starting point.

You're looking at 10-20 discrete EEG contact points, which I believe the Arduino could handle.
The EEG signals are very weak, so I am guessing some sort of amplifier circuit is necessary.
Filter / FFT hardware / software to remove noise and massage the signals into consistent wave forms - I'd suggest using an external FPU type circuit for processing speed.
Wireless would be ideal.
Custom communication app on the desktop, with shortcuts for common words / concepts as well as shorthand typing capability. It needs to "learn" the specific wave patters of the user similar to the video.

I like ideas and brainstorming. Would love to discuss further and follow your progress / help out if at all possible.

I think you would need a psychologist to assist also, as the move from being able bodied to completely paralysed would be devastating. Frustration with even the most capable software app would be unimaginable. Starting with simple yes/no, more/less type concepts would be where I would start.

I am really sorry for your friend.

BillHo:
Homebrew Do-it-yourself EEG, EKG, and EMG

Great link!