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Input Devices Entertainment Games

Brain Control Headset for Gamers 152

gbjbaanb writes "Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone. Headsets which read neural activity are not new, but Ms Le [president of US/Australian firm Emotiv] said the Epoc was the first consumer device that can be used for gaming. 'This is the first headset that doesn't require a large net of electrodes, or a technician to calibrate or operate it and does require gel on the scalp,' she said. 'It also doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars.'" Wait until the government can get warrantless wiretaps on the logs of those things.
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Brain Control Headset for Gamers

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  • Mindstorms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n3tcat ( 664243 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:49AM (#22487162)
    I can't wait to see what some hardware hackers can do with this and a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot!
  • by inicom ( 81356 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:51AM (#22487186) Homepage
    I'm personally glad to read this, as Gamera has been far too much of a free spirit wrecking havoc with his fire breath. This new era of brain control for Gamera should focus his energies far better to protect the cities of Japan.
  • by bentcd ( 690786 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:54AM (#22487212) Homepage
    Another new word of the 21st century:

    brain sprain
    Usage: "I sprained my brain playing HalfLife all through the weekend".
  • When I first read that headline, I read it as a headset that enables one to control the mind, vs. using the mind to control something. Perhaps that's because I'm listening to the 7th Son trilogy over at
    • i read it that way too - i do think that would be far more entertaining though.... but possibly a little unethical
      • I can already control your brain (to some extend).

        If you do not understand how, read this comment until you do.

        You just executed my code.
  • I wonder. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:55AM (#22487226) Homepage
    When will people like Mr. S. Hawking get one?

    Probably could help them quiet a bit with things.

  • by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:55AM (#22487240)
    I remember seeing these demonstrated at my college a few months back. At the time we could use them to point, and type things; but they were very slow and somewhat inaccurate.

    At the time they did not have a "Backspace" method, so when you typed "O" instead of "P" you would still have to use the keyboard to delete it.

    Found a YouTube video of it, but I think this one from a different company. []
    • That's software, a separate issue. If I get one of these, all it has to do is emulate a mouse, then I will want to use it with e.g. Dasher [], on top of a Tablet PC interface.
  • Bad summary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dibblah ( 645750 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:56AM (#22487250)
    Look closer at the text. It looks like the device reads *facial expressions* through pointed sensors touching the skin. Yay. That sounds comfortable.
  • maybe I miss read. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BrianHursey ( 738430 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:56AM (#22487252) Homepage Journal
    Did it say it required gel or did not. I have had multiple EEG's and the gel is not fun. It is like gel with sand in it. "This is the first headset that doesn't require a large net of electrodes, or a technician to calibrate or operate it and does require gel on the scalp," she said. "It also doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WC as Kato ( 675505 )
      Yep, that's an awkward sentence. Does it require gel or not?! And how does it taste?
    • Well I've recently had 3 EEG's and it wasn't too bad, you just wipe the area with an alcohol swab after pulling it off, it took about 20 seconds to be completely free and clean of the thing...There were only ten electrodes though. Maybe the gel they use for higher density arrays is different or its just more of a pain because theres more stuff to stick to your skull.
      • EEG's have gotten better over the years. The last one I got was 5 years ago. The first one I got was 1990. Your right I think there are less electrodes than before, although I never count I think there were more than 10 though. All I know is each time I go the experience gets better. BTW I have epilepsy that is why I have them. I probably have had 6 in my life.
        • I was just playing lab rat so I think I got the standard number for research which is probably less precise than whatever is used in a clinical setting. Also the sensitivity of individual electrodes may have increased as you mentioned. I was mostly just commenting on the fact that the gel didn't really cause any problems or annoyances with me.
  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @09:57AM (#22487262) Homepage
    Now when you die alone in your studio apartment the decomposing of your brain will be interpreted as commands, further delaying the chance that someone will alert the police that something is wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Depending on your guild mates to call the cops is probably a stretch. They'd probably just loot your corpse. You're better off hoping that your girlfriend, boss or friends notice that you're missing... Nevermind.
    • Well if they're dead then what does it matter? Unless you have found a way to bring back the recently deceased that is.
    • by MORB ( 793798 )
      Now when you die alone in your studio apartment the decomposing of your brain will be interpreted as commands, further delaying the chance that someone will alert the police that something is wrong.

      What's wrong with dead players? They can still compete in 2vs2 arena as resto druids.

    • right. Like mmorpg players have brains.

      *snicker* I kid, I kid ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:03AM (#22487290)
    This is definately a technology i'm interested in, it will be awesome for game controlling and possibly helpful for the disabled. However, I think there are some concerns which need to addressed in its application.

    For example, the Half-Life 2 games send an enormous ammount of information to Valve regarding player performance and interaction.

    Do you really want your emotional reactions broadcast over the internet? Aren't these pitfalls and questions inevitable with this technology?
    • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:38AM (#22487700) Homepage Journal
      *somewhere deep underground in an abandoned missile silo*

      Evil Data Mining Henchman: Look, master! This one smiles for 62% of the time while playing Half-Life 2! And they only have 512MB of RAM!

      Evil Data Mining Master: MWAAAHAHAHAHHHAHHAHAHAA!! Excellent work, Patrick! Soon we shall know just how much all of those poor fools are smiling! My intricately pointless and entirely impotent plan for world domination is almost complete!!
      • You joke, but that's not a bad business model.

        Think about it. Internet access and in-game ads are already standard fare. Add the headset data and you can (presumably) see which ones people respond favorably to. Which is data that you can then sell.

        Of course, once we get this hooked up to CNN we can see who to round up for re-education, but that comes later...

        Evil Data Mining Henchman: Look, master! This one smiles for 62% of the time while playing Half-Life 2! And they only have 512MB of RAM! Evil D

    • Who cares about the hookup to your face -- you type much, much more explicitly informative things every day, and then send it over the tubes. Granted, most of the emotions are of the sophomoric variety, but people have been leaking their emotional state over IM for the last few decades, and with some fairly trivial text processing you could discover it. (Start with just searching for smilies and emotional words, then level up to training Bayes-based classifiers -- if it works for telling what mails are sp
  • Not really (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joeyblades ( 785896 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:03AM (#22487296)
    I've been seeing these claims for years, but this technology is not really based on thought. It's just one form of bio-feedback. It is an example of control without conventional physical contact, but it does not process structured thought. The user typically has to train themselves to control the feedback mechanism. This is NOT reeading thoughts and taking some action. It is using thoughts to modulate some physical process. In that sense, it's not much different than training your fingers to operate a game controller.
  • Incredible (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mickyfin613 ( 1192879 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:03AM (#22487304)
    Soon all effort will be removed from gaming what-so-ever. Think of all the precious calories we can save playing World of Warcraft with our minds! Wonder if the twitch reaction timing will mean I can finally beat a Warlock 1v1.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )
      Not even the speed of thought can save you from the Skill Coil.
    • The simple answer to that is NO! you will not be able to beat a warlock 1v1... You will still be pummeled by their pet. Only twice as fast! (this is a joke)
    • ...playing World of Warcraft with our minds!
      One could argue the impossibility of such a thing, regardless of what input controller is used.
  • From the article: "It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv."

    So instead of trying to pick up cordless phone signals and listening to conversations, they can instead sniff into the wireless signal and pick up thoughts!

    I just can't wait to see the blog articles from this! :)
  • it says in the article "does require gel" but it's listed with things it no longer requires im wondering if that was a typo or not. Im interested to see how this works out. I wonder if someone would be able to hack either the device itself or whatever console they're gaming on and read their thoughts?
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:10AM (#22487364)
    "Wait until the government can get warrantless wiretaps on the logs of those things."

    Must every paragraph be twisted and poked until it makes some political comment. I don't know about the rest of you but I find it very annoying. Politics is only a small section that effect peoples lives. Things do happen without a political motive or really needs a political comantary. I think we as a people are getting obsessive over politics, everything needs a deep meaning. It doesn't enjoy life a bit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wiretapping a device of this sort would result in a log that looks something like this:


  • Will I just be able to think "boom headshot" and become 'l33t' at CS?
  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @10:22AM (#22487486)
    Did anyone else mis-read that headline as "Birth Control for gamers" or is it just me?
  • The government doesn't need "to get" warrantless wiretaps. They need to GET a warrant. That's the whole point of warrantless surveillance. You don't need to GET anything. You just do it without any oversight. No one watches the watchers. If the think you should be monitored for any reason whatsoever they will do so. Our political leaders have let us down, and that's putting it mildly.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by QuantumHack ( 58048 ) *
      All this hand-wringing about "warrantless wiretaps" is wasted energy. Unless you are intentionally planning/doing stuff to harm people, you need not worry about this.

      Having worked in intelligence, I can tell you: the government does not care what books you check out at the library, or what [legal] porn you download. They have enough trouble looking for whack jobs who are trying to bring down buildings and/or networks.

      There have been so many foiled plots from these so-called warrantless wiretaps, plots tha
      • Having also worked in Intelligence, I can say you couldn't be more wrong. The government cares about everything you do, read, watch, buy. Eespecially THIS government. When the Patriot Act was passed the government promised that it would be used to catch terrorists. Which lasted about 15 minutes. The first case prosecuted with Patriot Act powers was an OBSCENITY case. We're not talking child porn here. Just adult material that SOME find objectionable. Be afraid, be VERY afraid.
      • by WK2 ( 1072560 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:14PM (#22490022) Homepage

        All this hand-wringing about "warrantless wiretaps" is wasted energy. Unless you are intentionally planning/doing stuff to harm people, you need not worry about this.

        Or if you plan to do drugs. Or if you speak critically of the government. Or if you plan to do anything at all that someone else might find objectionable (which is pretty much everything). Or if you just don't want your dirty laundry in public view.

        There have been so many foiled plots from these so-called warrantless wiretaps, plots that if carried would have killed thousands or brought Internet businesses to their knees, that if you knew the full truth, you'd be glad these wiretaps exist.

        Name one.

        As it is, the general public can't know everything, because it would compromise the very intelligence gathering that saves lives.

        That's a little too convenient.

        For what it's worth, I believe you when you say you've worked in intelligence. You spout the same things they do.

        • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )
          How fast before the get out of argument free card - "It's classified" - is pulled out?

          Actually, I kind of agree with him.....if you aren't doing anything worth monitoring, there probably aren't enough resources to bother monitor you. However, if you "spark their interest", you can bet something is happening, and you probably don't know about it.

      • by bersl2 ( 689221 )
        If we are not to be told the truth now, then when? 40 years hence? How complete will the record be? How will we know that it has not been tampered with?

        We want documentation, complete and thorough, of the scope and findings of the wiretaps (redacted for privacy, of course), even if we won't see it for a few decades, and we want this documentation to have been reviewed by all branches of government. Warrants provide some kind of documentation. If our intelligence agencies are unsatisfied even with retroactiv
      • You're talking about the government as though it's a monolith. Policy has to be written to withstand efforts to abuse it. You can't go based on what you as a principled person would do. You have to go based on what your worst enemy with no morals whatosever will do, because those people find their way into power too.

  • If you think thinking in Russian will keep the Government from spying on your thoughts, you are wrong. The US government has plenty of people who know Russian left over from the Cold War. Based on the current state of US intelligence, I think you are better off thinking in Farsi. []
    • by Isaac-Lew ( 623 )
      I believe this is a reference to the movie Firefox [], starring Clint Eastwood. In order to operate the mind-controlled weapons onboard the plane, he has to think in Russian.
  • For this to work, you must be a gamer *and* you must have a brain.


  • Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.
  • I misread the summary title as Birth Control Headset for gamers and thought "Man, am I playing the wrong games"
  • With this, hopefully no one would slip and throw their controller into the TV. It would be a tad bit uncomfortable with it being strapped to their head.

    I'm a bit surprised they don't offer the option of a head-mounted display. They've already got the head-tracking, but that kinda sucks if your display doesn't move with you.
  • With all this VR stuff, I hate to rain on the parade, but as we get closer and closer to reality, what exactly is the advantage? At what point do people go outside and say, hey, this actual reality thing has better resolution! I understand that you can change or eliminate the rules in VR. But, if the rules are invented by people (you know, those things that go to war incessantly), then the rules are probably going to be worse and MORE annoying. So, I think I will stick with actual reality. Just a thought.
  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @11:20AM (#22488246)
    No one brought up the inevitable hack to enable "no-hands" surfing for pr0n.
    • I think the facial reading/emotion features could be used for more interesting things than just "surfing" for pr0n. :D
  • I saw one at CompUSA back in '98-99 and played with the skiing game. It was able to steer correctly about 75% of the time; not bad since I just walked up and plopped my finger on the little sensor.

    Go to http:\\ for an unobtrusive "neural" interface. It's really a biometric sensor that's able to get some very crude up/down/left/right input. Of course, their website is straight out of 1998 and it doesn't look like they have made any significant effort to rewrite their software for 2k, let alone
  • My left hand is retarded, always fat-fingering the 'a' and 's' keys while typing on home row. It's not much better when gaming with WASD. I'd snap one of these bad boys up if it it's better than my left hand mashing the WASD keys.
  • interact with the virtual world using their thoughts

    I'm in management, you insensitive clod!
  • When I read the title I immediately started hoping they had invented a headset that would allow me to control other peoples' brains. This isn't nearly as cool.
  • by __aailob1448 ( 541069 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:59PM (#22489780) Journal
    The brain is designed to control the body. Our hands are the most useful part of it, with reason.

    The next step will have to be some sort of glove ...we could call it a POWER GLOVE! Maybe nintendo can use it for the next console.

    But seriously, it'll have to be that. The big problem is making sure it understands our intentions enough to be useful. Imagine a pianist that can airplay wearing a glove that understand which key he meant to hit (How? Good luck with that...). THAT is the next step and it's hard as hell.

    Until then, all we can do is make more ergonomic pads, mice (wiimote is a 3D mouse, fun but doesn't provide more efficient control) and keyboards.

    • by IdeaMan ( 216340 )
      The problem is not making the device understand us. It's training us to properly stimulate the device.
      Think Biofeedback [] without all the kooky health nuts.
  • if this works even a little- combined with voice control it would be a godsend.

    I deal with pain-3 (on a 1-10 scale) all the time now. Mousing is much worse than typing tho. Partially carpal, partially chemo, partially diabetes. The laser off the eyes devices would also very helpful for the total package. And foot pedals.

  • Having to move my thumbs was too exhausting.

    Now, if they could just do something about that stair climb out of my mom's basement.

  • "Wait until the government can get warrantless wiretaps on the logs of those things."

    Yeah, it'd go something like this:


    "Oh my lord, Johnson, he must be planning an attack! Scramble some F-16s and get a trace on the IP address of that Nintendo -- we've got to stop this guy before he hurts someone!"



    "Hmmm... I think he's trying to get the 'Balls of Steel' cheat to activate. That's an arresting, Johnson, send the local authoriti
  • Natalie Wood [] would be happy.
  • I seem to recall Atari dabbling with this kind of brain interface junk back in the days of the 2600. I can't recall the name or if it ever made it past the mock-up stage, but if it had been released, it'd probably have gone the way of the U-Force.

    Most likely though, this thing will probably fail just as miserably as the Virtual Boy. People simply don't like uncomfortable, ugly-looking gadgets attached to their heads. (Especially stuff requiring frequent, repetative head movement.)

    On the other hand, fans of
  • by jadin ( 65295 )
    I still want the USB version.. direct link to my brain.

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