Forget the Wii: here comes mind control

26 Nov 2007

A revolutionary new device that will allow the user to control onscreen actions with the power of their mind alone will be commercially available sometime next year and is targeted at video game players.

The Wii controller may seem like a ground-breaking advance for interactive gaming but just as it superseded the joystick and gamepad, it too will be replaced by the greatest controller of all: the mind.

US- and Australia-based tech firm Emotiv has been working on man-machine interaction with the development of Project Epoc, a headset created by Australian neuroscientist Allan Snyder and Randy Breen, former head of development for LucasArts games.

With 16 sensors that attach to various points on the user’s head Project Epoc works like an electroencephalogram (EEG) by detecting electrical signals or thoughts, which it then translates into actions.

Resembling Professor Xavier of X-men, the user can use the helmet for technological telekinesis, lifting in-game objects merely by thinking about it, or making their on-screen character smile or frown by doing the deed themselves.

Although this headset has many possible applications in neuroscience, rehabilitation and for people with conditions such as paralysis, the reason Emotiv has chosen gaming as a way to develop this technology is because of the ubiquity of the gaming console and the flexibility and adaptability of young gamers.

In order to attune to your brain’s electrical signals, the headset takes readings of your brain in a relaxed state and then in an excited state, learning when you want to ‘think’ an object up or down, for example.

Nam Do, co-founder and chief executive officer of Emotiv, told the Sunday Times: “Our vision for the next generation of man-machine communication will not be limited to just conscious communication. Non-conscious communication between man and machines will play a big part.”

By Marie Boran