How we are helping to democratize the exploration of the mind with low-cost neurotechnology
Leandro Castelluccio, Co-founder & CEO, Naxon Labs
Inception - Evolve
Ruby on Rails
Brain-Computer Interface and low-cost EEG
Currently, having an EEG (electroencephalogram) costs several thousands dollars. The entry cost for someone who wants to study or wants to interact somehow with the brain is too high. Also, currently available software is not user-friendly or lacks any subscription model (you have to pay a one time fee of several thousands dollars).
Naxon tries to solve these problems by creating an easy-to-use SaaS web application in Ruby on Rails that leverages current low-cost devices already available on the market (that were designed for other purposes).
One of the main challenges we faced was handling the interaction of the Muse headband with a web browser, through the web Bluetooth API. An EEG creates thousands of data points per second that we need to send to a web browser, do some processing and display on a web page. This created interesting performance challenges that we had to solve.
Another technical challenge was creating an architecture that was able to support storing the EEG data in near real time (to avoid lag on the frontend processing) for later session playback.
We developed the first version of the Naxon Explorer product as a Ruby on Rails application, with an administrator interface and user portal. Naxon Explorer lets users connect to a Bluetooth enabled EEG, read the data in real time, display that information on a web application and record the data. Users can later play back the recorded sessions in order to study the brain.
Communication from the frontend to the backend (and vice versa) is all done via Websockets using ActionCable (storing information in Redis), to avoid any latency issues. The main advantage of this decision is that we don’t have to deal with delays while opening and closing connections (when you do a GET/POST request). This is really important considering that we are receiving thousands of data points per second from an EEG.
There are plans to use Machine Learning techniques in the near future to detect user’s emotions while they are using the EEG. We had to take that into account while designing the data processing pipeline that we do on the frontend.
The project involved the creation of a RoR web platform for monitoring, recording, and processing brain information obtained with an EEG device. The web app provides an interface for professionals interested in studying the brain, such as neurologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc.
After some months of design and software development, the founders of Naxon were able to transform their idea into a private beta with more than 150 users (mostly from research centers and universities). From there, they were able to create a production-ready SaaS product that scales to thousands of users.
We are very happy to see Naxon thriving and making it to our local newspaper, El Pais. It is super satisfying for our team to be part of successful startups with a mission so meaningful: helping professionals explore how our mind works.
Our Ruby on Rails team is really excited about being part of a healthcare project that's at the frontier of brain study. For us, team motivation is a crucial component of our company and this is a great example of the type of project we love to work with!