Monday, March 24, 2008

Mind-Meld With Your Wii

I'm mid-way through my vacation with my in-laws and thought I'd pop onto the computer for a bit to send some digitized brainwaves your way.

One of the highlights of this vacation is my wife's birthday. This year I got her a Nintendo Wii. You know, the game system that everyone is raving about, with remote controllers that you use to play with that have little gyroscopes in them so that your arm movements are captured and transmitted to your video characters. You can do all sorts of amazing things, like play tennis, bowling, sword fighting, and so forth by simply moving your arms and controllers. You can also accidentally throw your controllers through your TV. And if you're like me, you might be tempted to throw them across the room when you can't get the console hooked up correctly. And why is it named "Wii"? Probably because of the high-pitched noise you make as you shell out $300 bucks for the console and an additional $30-50 for each game.

I haven't yet gotten the chance to play this marvel of technology, but I'm looking forward to it. It took me an entire month to get the damned thing, since they are sold out everywhere. In order to get it, I basically had to stake out the department and video stores where they are sold, like some sort of noir detective, waiting for the latest shipment to arrive and then madly rushing in within an hour or two to grab one before hordes of teenagers got theirs. Well, something like that, anyhow. You practically have to bribe the store workers to hold it for you as you drive frantically through traffic to get to the store to pick it up.

This physical interface with the computer is a relatively new thing for the gaming industry. But now a number of companies are rushing in to one-up Nintendo by introducing not a physical interface, but a mental one. One, called Emotiv Systems, is nearing release, probably this year. That's right, control your video character with the power of your mind, using the Emotiv Epoc Neuroheadset:

http://www.physorg.com/news124723221.html

Do you remember Mindball, which I blogged on over a year ago? That was a system where two players sat across from each other controlling a ball using only their mental power of relaxation, using a helmet that read their theta waves. The more mentally relaxed or meditative you were, the more you were able to move the ball and beat your opponent.

This new system from Evotiv goes further, incorporating biofeedback readings such as EEGs and alpha waves (your state of relaxation), EMGs (muscle movement), ECGs and GSR (measuring heart rate and sweating), and possibly near infrared spectroscopy for blood oxygenation, all in a really kick-ass, futuristic mind-reading helmet (see picture). Excellent.

And what can you do with this nifty little device straight out of Neuromancer? So far Emotiv has developed an adapted version of a Harry Potter video game where players use their biofeedback to lift boulders and throw lightning bolts.

Other company's working on this include EmSense, NeuroSky, and Hitachi.

So for my lovely wife's next birthday, I may find myself staking out the department stores again, this time trying to find a way to snag a mind-reading device for the Wii and make more high-pitched pained sounds at the cash register.

Oh, my dear Nintendo, let us mind-meld! My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts…..


Image taken from HERE.

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