Sega is to develop toys controlled by thought, in collaboration with NeuroSky, a Silicon Valley-based start-up company that interfaces biological feedback (such as brain waves) to consumer electronics.
The toys will be based on NeuroSky’s ThinkGear, a brain-computer interface (BCI) consisting of a headset which incorporates an EEG. The device is basically the same as the BCIs used to control Second Life avatars and Google Earth, but looks much slicker than either.
BCIs can actually be used for more worthwhile purposes. For example, invasive devices consisting of electrode arrays implanted into the brain have been used to control prosthetic limbs and speech production software.
Last year, surgeons at Washington University in St. Louis made particularly innovative use of such a device: the implantable BCI they used to localize the origin of a 14-year-old’s epileptic seizures was interfaced with an Atari games console, so that the patient could play “mental” Space Invaders while they all waited for a seizure to occur.
The concentration required for controlling something using non-invasive BCIs has proven useful in alleviating the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy and various other psychiatric conditions, so the products in Sega’s pipeline could potentially be of some benefit to children with these conditions.
NeuroSky’s Think Gear headset is explained further, and demonstrated, in the film clip below.