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Newsletter: February 2014


Puzzlebox Pyramid and Helicopter

The Puzzlebox Newsletter

Updates from the makers of brain-controlled devices for minds of all kinds

A Year in Orbit

It has certainly been an adventure! We would like to thank all of our staff and backers, contributors and customers, and everyone curious encountered along the way for their continued interest and support after what marks the anniversary of the Puzzlebox Orbit. While recently silent (apart from our Twitter feed) Puzzlebox has been busy behind the scenes. We are happily making several announcements in this newsletter which we hope will reflect those efforts.

Puzzlebox Orbit for PC, Mac, and Linux

Puzzlebox Orbit for Workstations has been officially released to the public for the first time.This new application can connect with EEG headsets from NeuroSky, Emotiv, and any research-grade EEG supported by BCI2000. We are expecting to integrate with OpenViBE , OpenBCI, and additional consumer-grade EEG headsets as they become available throughout the year. Live data streams can now be recorded and saved or exported to CSV for review and visualization in popular spreadsheet software such as Libre Office, Google Drive, Excel, and Numbers. Record and graph your ability to achieve and maintain focus and concentration sooner and longer with practice over time while flying your Orbit. A Puzzlebox Pyramid is required for Orbit for Workstations, although for some limited computer models the audio IR transmitter included for mobile devices may suffice. Differences between audio hardware produce variations in signal output. Therefore audio IR control for the Orbit does not work on many computers. An alternative is to is follow our guide to build an Arduino-based IR transmitter for under $20. Installation packages are available for Apple OS X and Microsoft Windows. Linux support will be available shortly. The latest stable release will always be listed on the Orbit Downloads page. Source code is available from the Orbit development tracker.

Tilt Steering for Android and Apple iOS

We are often asked if it is possible to steer the Puzzlebox Orbit. The answer of course depends on precisely what is meant by the questioner. The helicopter itself can fly in any direction.Usually what they want to know is whether the Orbit helicopter can be steered around in the air using the mind alone. The truth is that yes it can, but not with only a single-channel EEG sensor placed over the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. There is not sufficient information and the location is not ideal for distinguishing intent. The compromise for now is to use brain-control to trigger flight, then another mechanism to steer. We have several innovative methods in mind which are being rolled out in stages to keep your Orbit experience fresh and new months and even years after purchase. Released in time for the holidays, and thanks to dynamic signal generation by Hao Zhang, it is now possible to steer your Orbit while in flight by using the tilt sensors in your mobile device. Enabling “Tilt Control” under the Advanced Options tab will allow tilting to the left and right to control Yaw, or clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the Orbit (when viewed from above). Forward and backwards angles will operate Pitch, causing the small propeller at the top of the Helicopter to activate. Finally “Throttle Only” mode will swap to manipulate how quickly or slowly the Orbit rises and falls in the air. Presets are also available to reset back to default flight characteristics. This update is available for download from Google Play for Android devices running version 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) or later. Puzzlebox Orbit for Apple iOS is available for download through the App Store.

All Pyramids Have Shipped

We requested shipping address confirmations for all Kickstarter Pyramid backers and outstanding pre-orders on February 16th. Anyone who confirmed by the end of last week should have already received tracking details for their complete order. Recent responders are being processed currently. Many have already received their items.Please contact Puzzlebox if you haven’t received any word about any outstanding purchases.

Emotiv Support for Puzzlebox Orbit

Beyond the Emotiv EPOC support available under Puzzlebox Orbit for Workstations we also recently produced an advanced beta release of Emotiv support for Android, and can happily announce we have already achieved compatibility with the upcoming Emotiv Insight.Public demonstrations have been conducted at the Emotiv Holidays are Insight Party and this past weekend’s Designathon at Pivotal Labs.

Kickstarter Wrap-Up

With the completion of Pyramid manufacturing and shipping underway we are finally in a position to wind up and and officially close out our Orbit Kickstarter.Along with the shipping confirmation for Pyramids, last week we sent requests to all outstanding backers. If you haven’t received your reward please do get in touch. T-shirts are being made this week. We’ve received sizes via survey from all but one backer. Finally we’d like to add all of our original backers’ names to our website and software credits for having helped our campaign along! We’ve started sending out surveys, look for a request asking how you would like your name to appear. We won’t add anyone who doesn’t specifically grant us permission!

Guides – Adding IR Support for New Devices

In our efforts to continue creating original educational material we have started publishing guides detailing the engineering tools and methods used to add Puzzlebox Orbit support to new mobile devices and computers. The information is rather technical in nature, but basic concepts can be understood by the lay person.

Nominet Trust – Social Tech 100

The community behind Puzzlebox Brainstorms is humbled to be considered “One to Watch” among the “world’s most inspiring social [innovators] using digital technology” as part of the Nominet Trust 100. We are inspired daily by fellow educational outreach programs such as the Khan Academy and key internet technology organizations such as Mozilla and Bit Torrent, and other familiar names on the list like Arduino and Kickstarter. We will endeavor to live up to these excellent examples of social technology and meaningful success.

New International Distributor

We are pleased to welcome Global Trade into the fold as our distributor in Japan

Recent Events

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2013A special thanks to Walid Soussou of Quasar and Jeremy Hill of the Wadsworth Center for their help in producing BCI2000 support for the Puzzlebox Pyramid to steer an Orbit in any direction via P300
APPNATION @ Moscone Center, San Francisco

Bay Area Software Engineers – Wearable Computing

Sponsored by O’Reilly Media @ Microsoft SF

Kshitj 2014 @ IIT KharagpurOur sincere thanks to IIT Kharagpur for sponsoring Puzzlebox’s trip to India and presentation of the Orbit helicopter and Pyramid controller at the Kshitj 2014 technology exhibition

Partner Events

Big Boys Toys 2013Thank you to our partner needITwantITgadgIT
Gadget Show Live @ ChristmasThank you to our partner Peter Jenkinson.

Upcoming Events

  • 3/24-3/25 Sandbox Summit @ MITDelving into the “purposeful designs that power playful learning.”
  • 5/7-5/8 NeuroGaming 2014 @ Metreon, San Francisco”Where mind and body meet game play.”

Latest Press for Puzzlebox

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