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Brain Hacking at MindLabs – CSAI students carry the day in international BR41N.IO Hackathon

Published: 04th May 2022 Last updated: 09th May 2022

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Two CSAI bachelor student teams achieved a spot on the victory stage during the international BR41N.IO Hackathon this weekend. This online event takes place twice a year to great interest from the field, coinciding with the Brain Computer Interface spring school and the IEEE SMC conference in the fall. This year, 45 teams from 53 countries participated virtually in the hackathon, with many countries organizing accompanying on-site events.

Dr. Maryam Alimardani hosted the on-site event in the Netherlands, providing the Dutch teams with workspaces, access to EEG devices and brain-computer interface technology, and dinner after their hard work. MindLabs (www.mind-labs.eu), where the CSAI department collaborates with several regional partners to promote the research and development of human centered technology, was the inspirational background of the event. One team from Radboud University and four from Tilburg University joined the weekend-long marathon.  

The competition for the Tilburg University teams was especially fierce; they consisted solely of CSAI bachelor students, while many other teams had PhD and master students strengthening their ranks. In only 24 hours, many working through the night, the teams raced to deliver their project. And they did so with great success: two CSAI student teams ended up winning the first ($1000) and third place ($400) awards for their programming projects.  

The two teams that won the awards were team Brain't (first place) and team Brainihacks (third place). Team Brain't included 5 students in the third year of the CSAI program, who developed a Brain Computer Interface for translating EEG activity of a sleeping person into art paintings that demonstrated the emotional valence of their dream. Team Brainihacks included 4 students, also in the third year of CSAI, who had won last years’ hackathon and again delivered a great project with "FOCUS", an app that tracks the attention level of a person using their EEG activity and gives them real-time notifications or daily reports.  

Team Hack ‘n Whack, a group of first year CSAI bachelor students and a guest student from Maastricht University, also drew particular praise for what they managed to accomplish. Their analysis of EEG data from stroke patients was worthy of a thesis project but achieved in only 24 hours. Finally, Team Master of Puppets integrated an impressively wide range of hardware and software in their project to classify movement plans from brain activity and implementing the results in a Nao robot. 

All the project presentations are available to watch online, and several teams also made their own progress videos: 

Team Brain't: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkBAN5WItAM   
Team Brainihacks:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crnRtY8fdEI 
Team Hack 'n Whack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4YRgaiZXag  
Team Master of Puppets:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_yJJWQbdsk  
The project presentations (for the CSAI teams, see 1:28:22, 4:05:56, 5:14:55, and 3:08:39) and award ceremony (7:09:25): https://youtu.be/dQMRqZAVbWw  

You can find more information about the event on www.br41n.io/Spring-School-2022  

Author: Maryam Alimardani, Lisa E. Rombout   
Image credit: Maryam Alimardani