Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Video Game Mind Control

Every gamer’s wet dream—controlling the game with your mind—may soon be a reality.

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Made by Emotiv, its called Project Epoc, and will be demo’d at the Game Developer’s Conference this week. This wireless headset if fitted with sensors which, I only guess, can detect changes in blood flow in brain regions. That seems like it would be ridiculously expensive, though. [Edit: Actually it uses EEGs!]

It is connected to different game platforms (from consoles to PCs) wirelessly, enabling gamers to control and influence a game purely by the power of the mind alone. This means even the disabled will be able to duke it out with everybody else. It would be nice to see this technology filter down into more practical applications like helping the disabled control everyday appliances.

But, what’s that funky looking pack on the back? Totally messes up the sleek design. Speaking of which, does anyone else think this thing might be a high-tech rip-off of Nintendo’s Virtual Boy?

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Hopefully it will have more lasting success though.

As seen on Gizmodo and UberGizmo.

Comments

  1. #1 Russ
    March 8, 2007

    “This wireless headset if fitted with sensors which, I only guess, can detect changes in blood flow in brain regions.”

    I’m just making a semi-educated guess, and not bothering to look up the product on the web, but it looks to me to be more of an EEG device.

    SB: Hmm…good call. Seems much more likely in fact.

  2. #2 Roy
    March 8, 2007

    I’ve been wondering when something like this would come out. For years, now, I’ve been seeing articles about studies using chimps and monkeys where they were having them move robotic arms or computer cursors using just their brains.
    Pretty wild stuff.

  3. #3 MC
    March 8, 2007

    Russ – you’re absolutely right. It’s an EEG cap. It probably detects the neural activity in the premotor and motor cortices, and transmits them to the computer or games console wirelessly.

  4. #4 Shaun
    March 8, 2007

    “It would be nice to see this technology filter down into more practical applications like helping the disabled control everyday appliances”

    It’s already started down that road. There’s a company called Cyberkinetics that has a BrainGate system in a pilot clinical trial. It basically uses implanted electrodes to interpret neural activity and uses fancy computing to translate the signals into motion. Really futuristic stuff.

    http://www.cyberkineticsinc.com/content/medicalproducts/braingate.jsp

  5. #5 Cameron
    March 8, 2007

    Yeah it’s EEG (Epoc not Epoch btw). I made my own awhile back . And some friends from austin were going to get a hands on demo of this @GDC.

    Working models in games were demonstrated by MIT Europe in 2004.
    The pack on the back is, as someone guessed, a wireless transmitter. The big problem with using these external EEGs is the signal to noise ratios are horrible b/c of the skull, and you’re so far away it’s tough to tell which ensembles are firing. The best non-invasive brain computer interfaces that I’ve seen can differentiate between two states with about 30 minutes of training. But they are completely incapable of controlling mechanical arms or cursors in 2 dimensions.

    All of the success that guys like Nicolelis and Donoghue have had getting monkeys to feed themselves with robot arms and control cursors has been through invasive electrode implantation. Same goes for the few ALS patients that have anything resembling fine motor control straight from their minds – all have invasive implants.

    I’m happy to see it’s coming out, I hope they go build a great toolset for it because it looks like it’s going to kick my rig’s ass. But I really don’t expect this to add much depth to the control of games.

  6. #6 orb
    March 12, 2007

    Hi guys,
    I work at Emotiv and stumble upon this site by chance.
    As you guys seem to have the most knowledge in this area compare to other forum, I can tell you the following:
    1. It is an EEG system (new technology that required no gel)
    2. It’s developed based on the latest breakthough in neuro-science. Emotiv has developed a highly sophisicated algorithm (patent pending) to “unfold the cortex” (which individualized across peopl like finger prints) to map a thought signal to it’s source.
    3. Current and pass EEG systems have not gone very far because they attached the well-known brain states (relax, attention, meditative, etc…) with actions in the applications. They do not allow you to think the way you think about the actions. In other words, you train your brain to learn how to do an action. At Emotiv, we have built an extensive machine learning system that allow US to train the machine how we think. hence, we are able to diferentiate between different thoughts (neath huh?).
    4. Because of that, training take as fast as 7 secs.
    5. We are working on applications to help disable people but if we are successful with our product launch, within two years, disable people will be able to get the system for a few hundred dollars instead of tens of thousand of dollars. Pervasiveness is the key to success of BCI. Hope to have your support on this. And disable people around the world, PLEASE bare with us for another couple of year, we promise to get you the best systems very cheaply.
    6. For the research community, we are anouncing a research kit for university to use on non-commercial activity in the near future. it would take as fast as 20 secs to set up an patient or a subject for research ( again, no gel). And the good news is, it’s likely to be free for meaningful research projects. We really want to promote this field to be bigger.
    7. To see how a game can be controlled by the emotiv headset, check out an video someone post on youtube

    And finally, now that we told you quite a bit of info, we have to hire you ;)

    Thank you for your support, really appreciated!

  7. #7 brad shepherd
    September 8, 2007

    If the electric current was reversed in an EEG device like this one, wouldnt the EMF induce more blood flow to the specified area? As gaming platform wouldnt it be cool to have a two way interaction?

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