A Meeting of Minds: Mentalab Explore and LabChart Lightning

LabChart LightningMentalab


Case study:
How connecting their Explore biosensor with LabChart Lightning software instantly increases Mentalab's market reach and makes their innovative device useable to thousands of research scientists all over the world.


Mentalab’s innovative Explore biosensor is the smallest and most flexible research-grade ExG biosignal sensor in the market today.

However, in order to be usable by researchers and clinicians, and to take advantage of the superior signals it records, the Explore device needed to be paired with high-quality analysis software.

LabChart Lightning, ADInstruments’ new data acquisition and analysis software, quickly became the stand-out choice.

LabChart Lightning provides a seamless out-of-the-box analysis experience for researchers who are running experiments and superior analytical tools. LabChart Lightning contains specific features and capabilities that help researchers extract maximum value from their data, and is modern and easy to use. 

By partnering together, both ADInstruments and Mentalab benefit commercially: ADInstruments uses its substantial worldwide reach to promote and support Mentalab’s Explore device, and Mentalab’s innovative ExG device is a valuable addition to the solutions that ADInstruments are able to promote to researchers.

Building a better biosensor

It was a chance meeting at a scientific conference that first sparked a conversation about collaboration between Brandon Bucher, Head of Research at ADInstruments, and Dr. Sebastian Herberger from biosensor startup Mentalab.

Sebastian, who has a background in cardiology and sleep medicine, had observed that most medical research devices were large, cumbersome, and difficult to use. He notes, “Hospital research equipment was designed for specialists, for robustness, and for complicated user scenarios. It was never intuitive, usually bulky, and rarely fun to use.”

Sebastian wanted to be able to utilize the modern wireless technology that was available in our everyday lives, for biosignal recording.

To do this, he founded a startup called Mentalab and created the Explore - a tiny, wireless biosensor that could capture extremely high-quality ExG signals from the human body.

Explore biosensor | LabChart Lightning

The Explore biosensor records high-quality ExG signals in a small wireless package. 

The Explore would allow medical researchers and their subjects to be free of the hassle, discomfort, and limitations caused by the bulk, weight, and restrictive cables of existing sensors.

Sebastian Herberger|LabChart Lightning

“The goal of Mentalab is to generate true value for researchers using our devices. We make and develop better biosensor solutions that enable new paradigms and allow users to explore new frontiers. And that is exactly what Mentalab Explore does.”

- Dr. Sebastian Herberger, Founder + CEO of Mentalab

LabChart Lightning: innovative analysis software 

Meanwhile, Brandon Bucher’s research team at ADInstruments were developing LabChart Lightning, an innovative data analysis software platform that was even more intuitive and flexible than their existing LabChart software.

A large part of their mission was to create tools to ensure that the software was compatible with any device that researchers chose to use for their studies.

Brandon Bucher says, “We want to be able to offer any researcher the ability to integrate any device they are using with LabChart Lightning so they can analyze the signals they record with a high-end software tool.”

Brandon knew that Mentalab’s Explore was a unique and clever piece of hardware as soon as he saw it. “The signals that the Explore were recording were incredibly high quality and very clean. ADInstruments have a very strong and trusted reputation in the life science research sector and we want to be associated with quality products and manufacturers. So we were interested in integrating Mentalab’s Explore device with LabChart Lightning.” 

Related: Reasons to integrate your hardware device with LabChart Lightning software »

Focusing on making the best product

The reason the Explore was such a high-quality device was clear. Sebastian had gathered a talented team together and their mission had a singular goal. He says, “we just focussed super hard on making the Explore the very best sensor it could possibly be.”

The team at Mentalab set about packing the highest quality of biosignal recording technology into a tiny mobile design.

The Explore biosensor is smaller than a matchbox and weighs less than an ounce. It provides up to 8 ExG channels (any combination of EOG, EEG, ECG/EKG, EMG, and more) at 24bit resolution with outstanding data quality, 9-axis movement sensors, and a raft of customizable features.

Data can be streamed via Bluetooth or stored on board. The tiny size makes it a truly wearable high-end biosignal sensor, that can be used in any mobile scenario.  

Explore biosensor | LabChart Lightning

The Explore biosensor is smaller than a matchbox and weighs less than an ounce. 

The Explore biosensor allows high-quality biosignal recordings in a variety of settings, ranging from Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) to sleep studies, online or offline, including any desired mix of electrophysiology signals with movement and positional data. It is ideal for neuro and cognitive research, building brain-computer interfaces (traditional or hybrid), as well as uses in applications such as cardiology, pneumology, and physiology.

Hardware needs software

For their application software, the team at Mentalab built 3 open-source APIs for the Explore device, including a Python toolbox called ExplorePy. While these are free tools, they are limited in functionality and can be difficult to use for people without good computer or programming skills. 

Sebastian knew that in order to be widely used and easily accessible, the Explore device needed to integrate with existing high-quality analysis software that was already in use by researchers. That’s where the chance meeting at the conference was fortuitous. ADInstruments’ LabChart Lightning stood out to Sebastian for its focus on user-friendliness, quality, and functionality. 

Related: Everything you need to know about LabChart Lightning research software »

Taking user experience to the next level

Sebastian says, “We quickly saw how coupling the Explore to LabChart Lightning software would really take the user experience to another level."

"We could see that LabChart Lightning will be the new industry standard for biosignal data acquisition and analysis: It can integrate with existing hardware products, and its rich functions and easy usability makes the life of high-end researchers much better.”

It was a natural pairing for Sebastian. “Mentalab's mission is to make the data acquisition process for the user as flexible, efficient, and beneficial as possible. And LabChart Lightning aims to do the same with its analysis tools and features. So, for us, that was perfect synergy.”

How does it work?

LabChart Lightning has a TypeScript based software development kit (SDK) freely available on Github, making the connection process for new and unique serial devices easy. Once developed, a Lightning plug-in allows users to customize the development of scripts and commands to connect to, and interact with the device, as well as directly access the wireless biosignal data stream.

Find out more about integrating your hardware device with LabChart Lightning »

Commercial benefits

Aside from the compatibility of the products and core values, there were important commercial benefits for both Mentalab and ADInstruments.

Mentalab’s Marketing Director, Eduard Deneke, realized the commercial potential in aligning with ADInstruments:

Eduard Deneke | LabChart Lightning

“ADInstruments is a world-wide market leader in high-end research equipment deeply connected with the global research community. They have a global customer base, with whom they keep close relationships, as well as a deep understanding of their applications and needs.”

- Eduard Deneke, Marketing Director, Mentalab

Global reach and market presence

Of the collaboration, Eduard says, “For us, it's a big opportunity. Now we have a whole marketing plan on the table which is very exciting! It’s been a very nice process, we've learned a lot, and it also helped us get ready for what we might have otherwise not been able to do on the same scale.”

“We know that we have a very good product but we have a very small and select circle of customers. Aligning with ADInstruments takes us to a global scale. It’s a company that's been around for 30 plus years and is known and trusted by leaders in the field of research that we are trying to serve. The collaboration provides us with global reach and market presence.”

Why collaborate with ADInstruments?

Powerful, flexible, and accurate, ADInstruments products are cited in more than 30,000 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and their equipment is the preferred choice for thousands of scientists and educators around the world.

Head of Research, Brandon Bucher, says, “We pride ourselves on supporting the scientific community with user-friendly software, specialized training options and solution-focused systems of the highest quality, giving them confidence in their data and in the power of their work.”

With over 30 years of experience in the life science sector, over 10,000 organizations served worldwide, 90% of the top universities served and strong relationships with professional societies including a strategic partnership with the APS, ADInstruments is a powerhouse in the field of scientific research. 

A mutually beneficial partnership

As individual products, both LabChart Lightning and the Explore biosensor signal a new generation in research software and hardware. Furthermore, the partnership between the two companies makes the products even more accessible and useful to more researchers around the world.

Our team at ADInstruments would like to thank Dr. Sebastian Herberger, Eduard Deneke, and the whole team at Mentalab for their dedication and hard work in being our inaugural hardware integrations partner. We are very proud to be associated with them. Their Explore biosensor is a truly remarkable device that we know will help researchers make unique and exciting discoveries into the future.

Want to know more?

Customers who wish to use the Mentalab Explore device with LabChart Lightning will experience the same great support they've always received from ADInstruments. Having developed the device plugin with LabChart Lightning, we can answer any questions relating to the plugin or LabChart Lightning software. For support regarding the Explore Hardware device - please contact Mentalab directly.

Are you an inventor or device creator?

LabChart Lightning Integration

If you have created a biosignal device but are struggling with software development, compatibility, or with the idea of marketing your product, please get in touch - we can help! 

Alternatively, try our Lightning Device SDK on GitHub for yourself.  Visit our device integrations page anytime for more information, technical advice, and details about market exposure and opportunities.



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