Reading scanbox files in Python

One quick way to get your data into Python is by using the Matlab API for Python.

First, install the MATLAB engine API for Python by following he instructions here.  You will need to install as administrator.

Then, from your Python code you can simply do, as an example:

import matlab.engine
import numpy as np
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt

eng = matlab.engine.start_matlab()
z = eng.sbxread('d:\gm7\gm7_005_000',1,50)

q = np.array(z._data).reshape(z.size[::-1]).T

m = np.squeeze(np.ndarray.mean(q,axis=3))

This will read 50 frames starting at index 0, make it into a numpy array, take the mean over time, and display the result.


Creating the communication to the Matlab engine may take a few seconds, but after that the calls to sbxread() should be relatively fast.  This is, of course, not the most efficient way to read the data into Python.

An alternative, offered by Francisco Luongo at Caltech, is to use the following native Python function:

import os
import as spio

def loadmat(filename):
 this function should be called instead of direct spio.loadmat
 as it cures the problem of not properly recovering python dictionaries
 from mat files. It calls the function check keys to cure all entries
 which are still mat-objects
 data = spio.loadmat(filename, struct_as_record=False, squeeze_me=True)
 return _check_keys(data)

def _check_keys(dict):
 checks if entries in dictionary are mat-objects. If yes
 todict is called to change them to nested dictionaries

 for key in dict:
   if isinstance(dict[key], spio.matlab.mio5_params.mat_struct):
     dict[key] = _todict(dict[key])
 return dict 

def _todict(matobj):
 A recursive function which constructs from matobjects nested dictionaries
 dict = {}
 for strg in matobj._fieldnames:
   elem = matobj.__dict__[strg]
     if isinstance(elem, spio.matlab.mio5_params.mat_struct):
       dict[strg] = _todict(elem)
       dict[strg] = elem
 return dict

def sbxread(filename):
 Input: filename should be full path excluding .sbx
 # Check if contains .sbx and if so just truncate
 if '.sbx' in filename:
   filename = filename[:-4]

 # Load info
 info = loadmat(filename + '.mat')['info']
 #print info.keys()

 # Defining number of channels/size factor
 if info['channels'] == 1:
   info['nChan'] = 2; factor = 1
 elif info['channels'] == 2:
   info['nChan'] = 1; factor = 2
 elif info['channels'] == 3:
   info['nChan'] = 1; factor = 2
 # Determine number of frames in whole file
 max_idx = os.path.getsize(filename + '.sbx')/info['recordsPerBuffer']/info['sz'][1]*factor/4-1

 # Paramters
 k = 0; #First frame
 N = max_idx; #Last frame

 nSamples = info['sz'][1] * info['recordsPerBuffer'] * 2 * info['nChan']
 # Open File
 fo = open(filename + '.sbx')
 # Note: There is a weird inversion that happns thus I am dding the negative sign....*nSamples, 0)
 x = np.fromfile(fo, dtype = 'uint16',count = nSamples/2*N)

 x = -x.reshape((info['nChan'], info['sz'][1], info['recordsPerBuffer'], N), order = 'F')

 return x



  1. Just a note that if you are trying to use Francisco’s code posted above on Window’s machine, the following line:

    # Open File
    fo = open(filename + ‘.sbx’)

    needs to be changed to :

    # Open File
    fo = open(filename + ‘.sbx’,’rb’)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s