Ena, the EEG-Bike
Ena, our novel brain-connected EEG (electroencephalogram) eBike, is our way to support cyclists: We need to do something about climate change, our cities are suffocating from air pollution, and we are stuck in traffic every day, going nowhere: our quality of life is severely affected by our car-focused culture. One of the most sustainable and healthy solutions for the urban dweller is the bike. In particular, we believe that the future of mobility is not the autonomous car, but better eBikes!
Ena, our EEG eBike, reads the cyclist’s brain activity through an EEG cap (that fits neatly within a helmet) and uses this intimate knowledge of the cyclist to support them. In particular, the eBike knows when the rider is in a state where the rider is peripherally aware: meaning that your field of view is widened. For example, when you are enjoying the ride, going through a beautiful area, the eBike senses that, and gives you more support through the electric engine. However, if you are stressed, for example, if a car veers in front of you or cuts you off, your peripheral awareness is narrower: your brain tells you to focus on what is right in front of you, such as a threat or danger. The eBike senses that, and therefore reduces the engine support, making sure you stay safe!
Our EEG eBike stands for a larger class of new human-computer interfaces, where the computer and system “integrate” with one another: most current systems “sense” something from the body, like cycle apps that sense how fast you are going. Here, the system senses, but also “acts on” the human body through the electric engine, and all that without explicit human input, thanks to intelligent software.
We found out through a study, where we interviewed people who used the eBike, that they really enjoyed riding Ena. Ena supported the happiness that comes from cycling while keeping cyclists safe. They said things like “Ena made me feel like a kid again!” because it provided them with a little bit of extra help when needed, just like a good parent provides a push when going uphill, but simultaneously keeps the child safe when needed, all without explicit instructions. Comparing it to their regular eBike, participants felt they were “integrated” with Ena, where the eBike and themselves were “fusing” together. We already know that sometimes you can be “one” with your bike and our technology takes that to the next level!
We need to support cyclists, so we developed Ena, a novel brain-connected eBike to have happier, safer, healthier urban dwellers!
Here is our talk about it at CHI 2020:
This work is a collaboration between the Exertion Games Lab at Monash University, IBM Research and the University of Southampton.
Andres, J., Schraefel, M.C., Semertzidis, N., Dwivedi, B., Kulwe, Y., von Kaenel, J., Mueller, F. Introducing Peripheral Awareness as a Neurological State for Human-Computer Integration. CHI 2020. Long paper. ACM. Video. Talk video.
We thank the participants, reviewers and colleagues who have helped. The Exertion Games Lab appreciates the support of the School of Design at RMIT University.