Use Your Head: New Brain Controller

Hm. I didn’t tag my multitouch screen post as “future”, did I? Damn. Scratch that. Like a commenter said, touchscreens get dirty. So what’s better? We’ve all heard of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), perhaps even some of you remember news of the (now old) Mindball game, where players wore an external sensor array on their head to control a physical ball on a table (Mindball video (WMV)).

Well, that was a few years ago so I was excited yesterday when I found the latest in brain-computer interface tech. Emotiv’s Project Epoc is aesthetically pleasing in a futuristic style — except for that boxy processing unit — and supposedly on its way to becoming commercialized for the gaming industry. Here’s their own description, although I warn that this description is very ambiguous and should be gobbled up with caution:

Project Epoc is a headset that uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals naturally produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expression. It connects wirelessly with all game platforms from consoles to PCs. Project Epoc now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player’s mind.

Project Epoc's Mind Reading Headgear

I can’t really comment on the technical aspects of the system as they provide only shallow descriptions. But Wikipedia has the following to say on non invasive brain-computer interface technologies:

Electroencephalography (EEG) is the most studied potential non-invasive interface, mainly due to its fine temporal resolution, ease of use, portability and low set-up cost. But as well as the technology’s susceptibility to noise, another substantial barrier to using EEG as a brain-computer interface is the extensive training required before users can work the technology.

Taking a look at the product page over at Emotiv, the examples (bottom, scrolling images) seem to indicate (or at least imply) that their system does quite a bit more than just move a cursor on the screen or a ball on a table. I’m interested in that avatar that changes its expression — given my enthusiasm for near-future virtual worlds ala Snow Crash, automatic expression control via BCI could be a killer app for teleconferencing.

In any case, even though I’m totally digging the motion controls of the Nintendo Wii — I’d trade it for a pair of a brain-computer interface and VR goggles any time.

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3 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Really interesting blog! I also have a CS background, and am very interested in AI. I love game theory.

    Mr. Disgruntled

  2. Wow! much sexier looking too than the Japanese versions that I played with a while back..
    definitely a no-go on the sticky finger touchscreens :-P

    Hrafn without you I wouldn’t be keeping up with developments that intrigue me but haven’t had time to hunt myself – thanks for delivering the quality goods ;-)

  3. @Mr. Disgruntled
    Thanks for the visit and compliment. I was hoping you’d have some juicy AI stories on your site, but that’s ok — I’ll keep them coming for both of us ;)

    Woha, you tried them? Damn, I haven’t had the chance and envy you deeply.

    Happy to hear you’re benefitting :)

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