Inc. : Videogames Powered By Your Brain

By Christina Desmarais, Inc. Magazine

At the most recent TED Global Conference a guy named Evan Grant made an orange cube disappear inside a virtual world by merely thinking it away. The audience went wild over the former TED speaker’s feat. What made the demo so mind-blowing was that while performing this seemingly magic trick, Grant neither spoke nor used his hands to communicate with the computer projecting the cube on its screen.

What the amazed audience witnessed was Emotiv’s brain-computer interface technology, which allows direct communication between the human brain and computers. Researchers have been playing around with this technology for decades, but only recently has it been used in a myriad of applications–from helping amputees sense and use their prosthetics to playing PC games without lifting a finger.

Using the mind to improve the gaming experience is something that makes gamers drool. The problem, says Scott Steinberg, chief executive of Seattle-based videogame consulting firm TechSavvy, is that the brain-computer interface technology available to gamers right now is impressive as a novelty, but no more effective at killing an opponent on “Half-Life” than using a mouse and keyboard. “It’s a classic chicken and egg scenario,” says Steinberg. “Until there’s compelling, high-quality, must-see content–killer apps–which fundamentally rely on the technology, fans won’t buy en masse. Yet until there’s a sizeable fan base, developers have little incentive to invest heavily in games which support it or raise the bar.”

 

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