Reverse Engineering

For one of my classes, I had the chance to reverse engineer, or basically take apart, a product to see how it worked and understand the engineering principles behind it.

My team chose to dissect Mindflex, a mind control game, developed by Mattel and released in 2009 that soon became popular nationwide. The game has a platform with a levitating ball (it levitates on a column of air). The player wears a headband with a forehead sensor that measures EEG signals from the brain, sends the signals to the headband’s electronics, which then send a processed signal to the base platform’s electronics. The electrical signal is finally converted into the mechanical motion of the ball’s height. Thus, the more you concentrate, the higher the ball goes.

Or so the manual says. When we played the game, we found that it worked and we could keep the ball at a relatively steady height, but there was also a lot of randomness to what the game considered “concentration.” For example, one of my teammates worked on homework and didn’t look at the ball but was still able to keep it in the air. LED indicators also show your level of concentration. Taking apart both the headset and the game platform helped us understand the game’s inner workings.

This was a fun and intriguing project. Maybe we can hack the headband’s electronics to control something else…hmm.

Published on April 10th, 2016

Last updated on January 20th, 2021