Almost everyone I've talked to who has played the Nintendo Wii really enjoys the new gaming console. Of course, a big part of the fun factor is the Wii Remote with its motion-sensing abilities, which allows you to move the controller around and see corresponding actions within the game. If you think that’s cool, there’s a new game platform in the works by Emotiv Systems called Project Epoc that will use your thoughts and emotions to manipulate and move objects on the screen. See the news article: “The next game controller—your brain?”
According to the article, “The Project Epoc system [a brain/computer interface system with a helmet and software applications] can move objects based on a gamer's thoughts, reflect facial expressions, and respond to the excitement or calm the gamer mentally exerts. … Sensors in the helmet pick up on electric signals in the brain. The system software analyzes the signals emitted by the brain and then wirelessly relays what it detects to a receiver.”
One of the most interesting things I learned about Project Epoc is that the gamer needs to learn the art of visualization for it to truly work. “It seems that gamers who believe in their ability to manipulate the virtual world with their brain—the kind of people who are skilled at using their imagination, in other words—are better at using the device.”
Emotiv chief product officer Randy Breen says, "We have had a number of kids try the equipment, and they often get the best results right away. Part of that is because the kid doesn't have the same kind of barriers as an adult does. Lots of kids can fantasize about moving a cup and believe it. Adults, on the other hand, are more definitive in their thinking and thus have a barrier to believing that they can do something out of the ordinary. While almost anyone can do at least one action with the device, some adults require practice to master up to three simultaneous actions.”
If the sensors in the helmet respond to the gamers’ thoughts and emotions, part of the barrier problem has to be the amount of muddily-muck and miscellaneous junk that floats in and out of the adult mind. “What should I make for dinner tonight? Is it garbage today tomorrow? When was I supposed to get that report to my boss? Did I remember to turn off the oven? Where did I put my glasses? How long do I have to keep visualizing before this thing works? Will it ever do what I want it to do?”
I can see hours of frustration in store for me when this gaming platform is released in 2008. Yes, I have to at least try it. How about you? Are you up for the challenge?
Here’s a peek at Emotiv’s helmet prototype. “Sensors in Emotiv's helmet pick up on electric signals in the brain and wirelessly relay the data to a game console or PC.” Click here to view the entire photo gallery.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.