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'Mind Gaming' Could Enter Market This Year 154

An anonymous reader writes "In an adapted version of the Harry Potter video game, players lift boulders and throw lightning bolts using only their minds. Just as physical movement changed the interface of gaming with Nintendo's Wii, the power of the mind may be the next big thing in video games. And it may come soon. Emotiv, a company based in San Francisco, says its mind-control headsets will be on shelves later this year, along with a host of novel "biofeedback" games developed by its partners. Several other companies — including EmSense in Monterey, California; NeuroSky in San Jose, California; and Hitachi in Tokyo — are also developing technology to detect players brainwaves and use them in next-gen video games."
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'Mind Gaming' Could Enter Market This Year

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  • read carefully (Score:3, Informative)

    by nguy ( 1207026 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @11:29AM (#22829448)
    This is what they say:

    Using a combination of EEGs (which reveal alpha waves that signify calmness), EMGs (which measure muscle movement), and ECGs and GSR (which measure heart rate and sweating), developers hope to create a picture of a players mental and physical state. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), which monitors changes in blood oxygenation, could also be incorporated since it overcomes some of the interference problems with EEGs.

    The only component of those measurements that could actually be used for real-time game control is the EMG, that is, measuring the activation of muscles. That may make for interesting games, but it has nothing to do with "mind reading".
  • by Beefmancer ( 1260556 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @11:36AM (#22829514)
    I did a final project on the limits of EEG (electroencephalography, or getting-signals-using-electrodes-on-scalp, which is what this is) for a neurotechnology seminar last semester, and compared my findings to the claims made by Emotiv. The result: some of the things they claim this device can do are actually impossible and always will be, and others are extremely unlikely unless they've made some seriously groundbreaking discoveries. (Mediocre two-dimensional movement, for example, has been generated by EEG, but it'd be impossible with their headset unless they have some sick new algorithms.) The professor of the same course actually met with the president of Emotiv, who failed to demonstrate that the device could do anything.

    Last I checked, their marketing videos are ridiculously flashy while showing no real control capability. My belief: EEG headsets like these, at best, will be controllable only by facial muscles (which completely overshadow the electrical potential generated by the brain) and by alpha rhythm amplitude, a very slow control signal demonstrated in "BrainBall", which was posted to slashdot some time earlier. At worst these headsets will be near-worthless devices, their sales supported entirely by false promises and media hype.
  • by Krakhan ( 784021 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @11:53AM (#22829622)
    As a nitpick, it wasn't Nintendo that made the Power Glove. It was Mattel.

    Regardless, I think a big part of the reason it wasn't used much at all was the huge hassle it took to get it set up with games (you had to actually know and enter in a code for each game before you could use it), and even if it supported it, it just didn't work well at all, and you were better off just using the NES controller.

    A better example from Nintendo for accessories they released was probably the Super Scope. Neat, and did work, but only 4 (?) games worked with it.
  • by GatesDA ( 1260600 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @12:56PM (#22830048)
    The Power Glove was by Mattel, not Nintendo. Another example of input innovation that didn't catch on was the Bandai Wonderswan. It had buttons on three corners so it could be played in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Re:Translation (Score:3, Informative)

    by milamber3 ( 173273 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @01:10PM (#22830180)
    I'm sorry to say this, but none of these will work. The OCZ version and every other version that is coming out anytime soon (i.e. next 10 years or more) will make the power glove look good. The sophistication we have in recording and analyzing EEG is no where near ready and that is when we use setups in labs that cost 10's of thousands of dollars. The subjects still need to stand completely still and even eye blinks will give you major artifact. The EEG you will get from the sub par recording electrodes hooked up to kids that will be moving around is not going to allow for any meaningful kind of control.

    I say all this with authority because I have been conducting research in the field of EEG for more than 5 years and I am very familiar with the level of technology and what can be done with it. I have published 6 peer-reviewed papers on the subject.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2008 @02:25PM (#22830716)
    A voice controlled RTS is in the works: Tom Clancy's EndWar [].
  • I played this at GDC (Score:3, Informative)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:02PM (#22830970) Homepage
    I got to play with one of these at the Game Developers Conference []. It can determine if you are being "meditative" or "focused." It was kinda neat, with two limitations:
    1) It didn't work at all one some people (me being on of them).
    2) The company says it is useless for games.

    It's funny that there is an article about this being for games, because the reps at the show said that it wasn't really useful for games, and they were instead looking into military and commercial apps. For example, using it to see if drivers are awake. Or if a pilot is in need of a stimulant. But as for games, you really can't change your mental focus while doing something else. In the demo game, the rep would move your character around for you and click on things because it wasn't realistic for the player to be in a "meditative" state while doing those things. And since the whole contraption can only measure one axis, it is a lot of complexity for very little value.

    It was a nice tech demo but there was only so much that could be done with it. It is definitely not the next big thing in gaming.
  • by rkanodia ( 211354 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:39PM (#22831252)
    Blowing into the microphone works just as well.
  • by Double_Duo_Decimal ( 1104907 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:48PM (#22831308)
    Or what about Half-Life 2: what if you could issue commands for your forces, like "medic!" "cover me!" or "attack that strider!" and your squad would actually do something useful, instead of just complain and get shot (which is about the limits of their current capabilities)? In UT2k4 you could give orders to bots on your team by using a designation+order voice recognition thingy. If you had three bots, no matter their names, they'd have a "title" of alpha, beta, or gamma. You could hold a button, say "Beta, cover me." and "Gamma, defend.", then watch them run about to fulfill your orders. It would be nice if more developers would incorporate a similar system in single player squad based games.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.