History of how BP started, and was brought to the end-users' home.

Developed in the lab

The project "Brain Painting" began in 2005 when the "retrogradist" Adi Hösle (website in German) and the BCI group of the University of Tübingen met and decided to combine art and science.

BrainPainting Setup

Figure 1: Prof. Dr. Andrea Kübler holding a photo taken while she was PhD Student setting up an EEG cap on the head of a paralysed patient in Tübingen . (Photo Robert Emmerich)

The first version of BP was evaluated by Andrea Kübler and the first locked-in patient who participated to the project was Liane Krauss. In an iterative process between developers and users the BP application was further refined (Münßinger et al., 2010, Fazel-Resai et al., 2012, Kübler et al., 2013, Zickler et al., 2013)

BrainPainting Setup

Figure 2: Brain Painting created by the first artist (LK) with paralysis collaborating with Andrea Kübler

Brain Painting was developed by Andrea Kübler (Institute of Psychology of the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg) and her scientific team, aiming to enable paralysed people to recover quality of life with a new way to communicate with their environment. It was shown that healthy people and those with disease in the locked-in state not only tremendously enjoyed Brain Painting, but also, most importantly that they were able to paint.

Andrea Kübler and Ranga Yogeshwar

Andrea Kuebler (link) and presenter Ranga Yogeshwar in Rostock Days of Physics. © Mathias offer

Funding from the European research programme allowed the team around Kübler at the University of Würzburg to intensify the development of BP within the project TOBI (tobi-project.org)

Then installed at patients' homes

BrainPainting Setup

Figure 3: HHEM painting at home

At the end of 2011, Brain Painting made a step forward with the project "Brain Painting at users' home" (supported by the EU-FP7-ICT-project "BackHome" no. 288566): a simplified software version was installed at a patient's home and the patient's family was trained to set up the BCI and the EEG cap. Since then, the Brain Painting application has been incrementally improved.

To avoid unnecessary travel costs and presence of researchers at users' homes, a remote desktop support was provided, ensuring fast and convenient support.

The first artist having used the new Brain Painting at home was Heide Pfützner (HHEM) from Leipzig (Germany). Since 2013, a second artist diagnosed with ALS, the professional painter Jürgen Thiele from Berlin (Germany), also regularly uses Brain Painting at home. Both present their artworks in the galeries on this website and share their experience with Brain Painting.

BrainPainting Setup

Figure 4: Juergen Thiele painting at home

Brain Painting 2 (BP2)

After several interactions with the artists in which they told us their wishes and needs for more satisfactory painting, we developed a new version, called Brain Painting V2, that integrates the following new features:

  • more forms and colors to be painted on the Brain Painting canvas
  • the possibility to draw lines and curves
  • colored text can be inserted
  • ability to select additional pictures that caregivers placed into a folder. Those are automatically detected and added to the matrices
  • an auto-calibration tool, which allows for a quick calibration, i.e. adaption due to the individual brain activity.
  • a pause function that notifies the caregiver
  • overall improved feedback and more convenient interface

The system is developed in Python programming language (Pyside, PIL and Pygame) and requires the BCI2000 software for signal processing only. Efforts have been made to render the system as comfortable. The main asset of the system is the combination of those requested improvements with the independent home-use design we created for our artists, ensuring it is as easy as possible to install and operate by non-specialists. A validation study with 10 participants has been performed to ensure flawless operation. A tutorial video is available introducing non-experts to Brain Painting.

BP2 2014

Figure 5: Brain Painting version 2 (pre-testing iteration in 2014)

BP2 2016

Figure 6: Brain Painting in 2016