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Sep 18, 2017

Outstanding: UID employee wins first place at BCI Hackathon

The "multicorn", a textile EEG headset for kids, won UID's Martina Uhligfirst place in the "Artistic Projects" category at the BR41N.IOHackathon, which was part of the Ars Electronica 2017.

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The jury included Anouk Wipprecht, an icon in the international fashion-tech business. So Martina Uhlig (UID) was all the more delighted when the Dutch designer declared her and her "sister-in-arms" the winners of the "Artistic Projects" category. In the creative environment of the Ars Electronica, Martina had teamed up with Bokan Mohammad Assad to design an appealing EEG headset for kids. EEG (electroencephalography) allows to measure the users' brain waves, which can be used to control user interfaces via brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). These enable users, especially when they have physical impairments, to use new forms of interaction.

Martina and Bokan designed the "Multicorn", an EEG headset combining aesthetics and functionality. This is what Martina reports about the design process: "At first we brainstormed ideas: My first intention was to base the design on existing headgear, such as an aviator hat or a space suit. My colleague's idea was to make the headset look like an octopus that sits on the head. We wanted to hide all the cables and electrodes to distract the children from the clinical surroundings. However, the cables and electrodes still have to be easily accessible so that gel can be applied. Therefore, we sewed a double cap in which they are hidden between two layers of cloth. Each electrode is covered by a "corn", which can be folded to the side to apply gel."

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She recollects the Hackathon: "It was extremely tight, we started working on our Multicorn video for the jury when there were just five minutes to go. It would have been great to have more time to make the headset interactive – for example with LEDs in the corns' tips that light up depending on the activity of the electrode below it." Congratulations, Martina, on this fantastic success!

Last year, too, Martina and her UID colleagues Katrin Schäfers, Martin Ecker and Stefan Hintz won the AAL Hackathon "Hack for Ageing Well" in St. Gallen, Switzerland. And UID will also take part in the next AAL Hackathon in Coimbra, Portugal. Moreover, we will take up the challenge and participate in the Stuttgart Hackathon at the end of October.