The Cognichrome

Mind Art



The Cognichrome is an art installation which reads a person’s brain using an EEG and instructs a robot to paint the interpretation of the user’s thoughts on a real canvas. The painting evolves as the wearer is mentally interacting with the device, as their mind is exposed to new videos from the device’s monitors. When they decide to stop they can take the canvas home with them.


    Currently the Cognichrome is in development. While the EEG and software components of the device are functional, the hardware aspect is conceptual. Using brain waves to paint the mind's status for the sake of art is the ultimate purpose.

Brain Scanner

    A consumer grade EEG device akin to the Neurosky’s headset. More sophisticated consumer grade EEG devices already exist and others are on the horizon


    The robotic hand used to paint would be standard industrial robot hand such as ones made by Kuka or ABB. Speed and ergonomics would be key factors in selecting the device. The Kuka LWR would be an ideal candidate

The Computer

    The interpreting computer is completely behind the scenes but is arguably the most important component. Its algorithms first interpret the brain waves and aim to classify the current mental state of the user. While there is a healthy amount of discussion around the potential of EEG technology, today the insights the Cognichrome is able to infer about are fairly low resolution.

The Algorithm

    The algorithm which is using a modified form of an unsupervised classifier described here can detect overt human emotions such as: Excitement, disgust, arousal, concentration, meditation, fear. Once the machine learning algorithms detect the mental state of the user, the computer instructs the robot to render an interpretation of the emotions on a canvas. Using simple logic we could draw red zigzags if the user is excited and blue waves if the user is in a meditative state. A more advanced interpretation uses the mental states to changes parameters to a fractal which the robot is painting real time. An artist-programmer could create various mental-state-to-robotic-motion mappings breathing human judgment to the AI painter.


Data Processing

Link to PDF file
Visit Website
Some prototypes were created with Rapidminer. Most processing done in R. Inspiration for the software came from the Wave_clus package by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga Conceptual designs for robotic control software includes use of ‘fractalrock’ CRAN package



EEG: Neurosky mindwave and ZEO. Upgrade to a multi sensor eeg.
Robot: Kuka LWR (planned) or ABB IRB 120
Stand: Custom Designed


Contact: gene @ this domain

Write me an email (see email address)
Visit me on facebook
Name: Gene Ekster
Location: New York
Sponsors: None
Ready to Cooperate: Yes
Related Background: Cognitive Science @ U.C. Berkeley
Contact: gene@ this domain

Another Project


View Info
Link to PDF file
Visit Website
Name: Gene Ekster
Location: New York

The Vision

The vision is to create a EEG based robotic painter which uses nothing but brainwaves to create art. The goal of the Cognichrome is to artistically explore the promising filed of Brain to Computer Interface (BCI) and art. From art galleries to festivals.


Gene Ekster, the creative lead behind the Cognichrome has a background in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence. Please get in touch with him if you are are curious about EEG technology, robots or art and would like to participate. The project would greatly benefit from talented folks helping and taking a leading role.


15 Cliff st.
New York City, NY 10038
(510) 967-7977

Special Thanks

Jenia Kosoy
Chris Vaks