Emotiv: Breaking new ground, again, with Insight

Emotiv, the bio-informatics company run by CEO Tan Le in San Francisco, California, recently released its newest entry into the brainwave reading headgear market, The Insight.

emotiv insight 2015 image

The Emotiv Insight

After receiving the majority of their funding through a Kickstarter campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tanttle/emotiv-insight-optimize-your-brain-fitness-and-per), they began shipping at the beginning of July 2015 to their backers.

(Mad Progress penned an article about the Emotiv Kickstarter campaign nearly 2 years ago Here, and another way back in 2012 when the Emotiv products were just becoming commercially available Here. )

A Special Device – One of a Kind

Emotiv says this new device is the only one currently on the market offering “5 EEG+2 reference sensors” to provide “higher spatial resolution” and “more in-depth information on your brain activity.”


The Insight is lightweight and user friendly, providing 128 samples per second for each of the 5 channels. It includes 9-axis inertial sensors, including a 3-axis gyroscope for roll, pitch and yaw, a 3-axis accelerometer for vertical lateral, and longitudinal acceleration, and a 3-axis magnetometer for changes in position and orientation.

Bluetooth Compatible

The device is Bluetooth Wireless 4.0LE compatible and works with Android, iOS, Mac, Linux and Windows.

Unlike previous Emotiv headsets, as well as those of competitors, the new “proprietary polymer sensor” system in The Insight does not require any lubrication to provide a clear connection and reception of electrical impulses. Instead, these new sensors absorb moisture from the environment.

Relatively Inexpensive

emotiv insight headset eeg

Picture courtesy of https://masteryourinvention.com/emotivinsight/

Even with all of the advances in the technology and design, The Insight is also the least expensive headset offered by Emotiv, with a price point around $299.00 as compared to their EPOC, a 14EEG +2 sensor 9-axis system, which sells beginning at $399, and the upgraded EPOC +, with Bluetooth and a user-configurability starting at $499 (https://emotiv.com/store/).

Apps Available and More On The Way

In his article on C|NET, Tim Hornyak, in August of 2013, noted that The Insight comes with Android and iOS mobile apps “to track and improve attention and relaxation.”

I Can Control A Video Game With Just My Thoughts?

Hornyak notes it can detect commands such as push, pull, levitate and disappear and can also detect facial expressions.

Any Good Reviews On This Thing?

The website Neurogadget also notes that The Insight is “sleeker, faster and smarter than EPOC,” and can measure 8 key brain states, namely attention, focus, engagement, interest, excitement, affinity, relaxation and stress, and the article declared it to be “elegant, light and user-friendly.”

Science Fiction?

Controlling things with our thoughts is a staple of science fiction and fantasy; however, it is now a reality with devices like The Insight.

Medical Uses For EEG

eeg headsets

The Mayo Clinic defines EEG :

“An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you’re asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.”

The technology for this has been around for nearly a century, according to the website Inc.

EEG has been used to diagnose various illnesses, including epilepsy, sleep disorders Alzheimer’s and other brain-related conditions.


It is also used in neruofeedback training, especially in ADHD patients, to aid in concentration and cognition. However, the devices are expensive and too cumbersome for daily home use, which is why companies like Emotiv began to study the technology and develop smaller, more user-friendly versions for everyday use.

Everyday Uses For EEG?

Applications for EEG headsets abound. From enhanced gaming in a virtual environment, to manipulating an electric wheelchair (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0at3NzNRySg ), to focusing your thoughts emotions and feelings, The Insight and other similar devices can be used for fun as well as for life-enhancing purposes.

EEG headgear can improve the lives of those suffering from paralysis, as well as those just looking for a newer, more enhanced gaming experience.

In a video series mentioned in the article, “Mind Control: How a £200 Headset is Redefining Brain-computing Interaction,” in Wired UK, a woman, paralyzed in an accident, is introduced to The EPOC, Emotiv’s first headset.

At first, she seems disengaged and bored, but as the videos progress, so does she until, eventually, she is controlling an online game like an expert and holding her head upright for the first time since her accident. While gaming and other entertainment applications provide fun, it is uses like this that are the most exciting breakthrough with this technology.

Emotiv Insight and Occulus Rift Gaming Applications

While Emotiv is not the only player in the EEG device game, they do seem to be on the cutting edge of the technology. They were the first company to introduce mobile EEG systems at a TED conference in 2010 (http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves?language=en), when CEO Tan Le introduced the world to the first wearable EEG device and showed what it could do.

Since then, Emotiv has listened to customer feedback and worked tirelessly to improve their products with each new launch. The Insight is the result of their hard work, and it appears to be the new “gold standard” in interactive headgear.

For videos on how The Insight works as well as other interesting information on Emotiv, check out their YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/emotivstation/videos).


Article Written By: Kirsten Maki

Article Sources:

C|NET “Get your Brain in Shape with Emotiv Insight Headset.” Tim Hornyak 16 Aug 2013 www.cnet.com/news/get-your-brain-in-shape-with-emotiv-insight-headset

Emotiv. https://emotiv.com/insight/php

Inc. “Reality Bites.” David H. Freedman 1 Dec 2008. www.inc.com/magazine/20081201/reality-bites.html

Mad Progress: The Internet Magazine. “Everything you Need to Know About the Emotiv EEG Headset.” madprogress.com/the-emotiv-eeg-headset/

The Mayo Clinic. “EEG” www.mayoclinic.org

Neurogadget. “Emotiv Unveils Insight, a Powerful New EEG Headset that Doesn’t Require Saline.” 1 Aug 2013. neurogadget.com/2013/08/01/emotiv-unveils-insight-a-5-channel-wireless-brainwave-headset-that-does-not-require-without-setup-or-saline/8482

Wired UK “Mind Control: How a £200 Headset is Redefining Brain-computing Interaction.”, 23 Nov 2010. Neal Pollock. Www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2010/12/features/mind-control

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