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Spikes on the Android!

While most of us were enjoying our relaxing summer vacations, our developer Nate was hard at work porting our Backyard Brains mobile application to the Android platform.  We have just released our first version to the Android Market, and Yes! it’s a free download.  We are happy to now add the android phones to our growing list of supported devices for Backyard Brains data analysis.

For those that are interested in helping out in the future development of application or just interested in learning JAVA, we have released the source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL) license. You can get access to all of our source code on Github:

This is an early release (0.1b), so it only provides limited capabilities for now. But it does the most important thing. It allows you to see Spikes on the Android! See photo below, (that’s Nate’s hand). Watch for updates in the Market Place, as we will soon be adding more functionality.

Don’t forget to install our application from Happy spikes!


Call for Audacity to build Digital Oscilloscope Function?

ByB has had magnificent success using Audacity to view and record their neural data, and Tim has begun thinking about modifying Audacity to contain a digital oscilloscope mode. Here is what he wrote to the Audacity team:

Hi folks,

I just sent an e-mail regarding getting Audacity to work on the OLPC (one labtop per child) project, but I want to suggest/discuss a larger idea.

My colleague Greg Gage and I founded “Backyard Brains” as a startup to deliver low cost neuroscience to high schools, universities, and amateur scientists by building tools to record from the nervous system of insects.

We have developed our own electronics, and we are using “Audacity” to view and record the data on labtops. This all works wonderfully on the PC and Mac, and we are currently trying to get it to work on the OLPC (re: previous discussions).

You folks at Audacity have built a very powerful audio processing tool, but you have inadvertently (or maybe intentionally) also created a very valuable scientific tool! By accessing the microphone input of any standard labtop, we can feed almost any analog signal we want from any scientific instrument we build into your very easy to use and intuitive program (with a huge array of post-processing built in). And, If we need to, we simply save our data as wav files and then do any further post-processing in Matlab.

The only thing Audacity needs to make it a killer scientific tool is a sort of “digital oscilloscope” mode with a trigger function. The youtube link below shows what neural data looks like in triggering mode.

To do this would be a modification of the viewing options in Audacity. I do not know how difficult this is, but I wanted to throw it out there. We have been attempting to modify other programs to do this, but Audacity is just a much more mature program. Let me know what you think!



Spikes on the OLPC

Backyard Brains is beginning to make in-roads with the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative. This week we were able to display spike waveforms from a cockroach leg in real-time on the OLPC laptop. We are using the “Measure” application to display the data. Note the spikes on the XO PC below from our prototype 3 of the Spikerbox.

First XO Spikes

There are still some features lacking that we will need to get sorted out before we can use the OLPC for experiments. We would like to be able to theshold the spikes in real time, as well as figure out how to retrieve the stored data for analysis.