Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gamers may soon control action with thoughts

A couple of companies are trying to integrate brain wave monitoring into video games.

San Jose's NeuroSky has been testing prototypes of its system that uses a sensor-laden headband to monitor brain waves, and then uses the signals to control the interaction in video games. They hope that such games are just the beginning of a mind-machine interface with many different applications.

Sensors in the head gear -- whether headbands, headsets or helmets -- measure electrical activity in the brain that scientists have studied for decades. Using NeuroSky's chip technology, the system can distinguish whether a person is calm, stressed, meditative or attentive and alert. Beyond games, the system might be useful for determining whether drivers are so drowsy that they need an alarm to awaken them.

The goal is to create game console add-ons costing less than $100. Some of the game play features can be conscious -- such as forcing someone to concentrate in order to drive a car faster or toss something at an enemy. Others can be subconscious. The game could slow down, for instance, if the sensors pick up an increase in anxiety, Lee said. The company hasn't set a timetable for the product launches of its customers.

CyberLearning also uses electrodes that attach to a player's scalp and monitor brain activity. In a fashion similar to NeuroSky, it monitors the relative stress or calmness in a person's neural patterns and links those signals to game controls.
This is my favorite potential application:
Aside from any medical uses, both companies hope their tools could one day be used to create true ``Jedi'' effects in games set in a Star Wars universe. The player could use mind control to lift objects in video games and toss them at enemies in ways that resemble the action in the George Lucas films.
via MercuryNews.com

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