Wednesday, February 20, 2008

BBC NEWS | Technology | Brain control headset for gamers

Well, looks like my wiimote just became obsolete.  Worst $45 I ever spent.

A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain will go on sale later this year.
"It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv.
"It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively," she added.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Brain control headset for gamers

Actually, it seems to use a similar technology, a gyroscope, to detect movement and facial expressions.  The one difference?

"Communication between human and machine has always been limited to conscious interaction, with non-conscious communication -- expression, intuition, perception -- reserved solely for the human realm. At Emotiv, we believe that future communication between human and machine will not be limited to the conscious communication that exists today. Users will demand that non-conscious communication play a much more significant role."

Though the thing looks a bit like an 80's headset with tentacles, it still sounds incredible.

The 80s is probably where they got their design idea...

"I honestly believe that the next big leap in immersive technology will be very much like Brainstorm." - Douglas Trumbull, Brainstorm

But why gaming?  Why not just turning off the lights in your house, or changing the channel on the TV, or programming your Tivo?

More info on the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology.

It looks like controlling a computer with your brain has been around since the mid-90's.  From Wikipedia:

"in experiments beginning in the mid-1990s, Niels Birbaumer of the University of Tübingen in Germany used EEG recordings of slow cortical potential to give paralysed patients limited control over a computer cursor."

Of course, it took months of training to write 100 characters an hour, so it didn't work very well.

Looks like my light switch idea was already tested with good results, albeit in the virtual world.

"In 2000, for example, research by Jessica Bayliss at the University of Rochester showed that volunteers wearing virtual reality helmets could control elements in a virtual world using their P300 EEG readings, including turning lights on and off and bringing a mock-up car to a stop."

Who's behind this latest innovation?  I'm guessing the Fraunhofer Society, the killers of the physical music media and inventors of MP3 have something to do with it.

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