Brain waves control a 3D game for the first time


It was only a year ago the Xbox Kinect hit the UK and turned the entire human body into one inept giant controller, but new research could take gaming to a whole new level.


The human brain remains the most complex piece of biology in the universe, and scientists have spent years trying to find ways to use it as an interface with modern technology.


That research took a huge leap forward this week, when scientists at the University of Minnesota demoed a game where players directed a virtual helicopter through hoops using only the power of their mind.


Players have to strap on a silly cap which can pick up brain waves, but the secret is converting the baffling range of signals into on-screen actions.


Medgadget says it takes some practice for players to imagine using their arms, leg and tongue, which the university boffins use to calibrate the system. Our brain waves all behave differently, but once the computer knows what to look for, the helicopter can fly with precision. Players were able to send their chopper through 85 per cent of randomly positioned hoops, which is probably enough for an achievement.


It’s not the first time video games have been controlled using only the power of the mind, but in the past it was only possible on 2D levels.


This is the first proof of brain control in a 3D game, which leaves us giddy at the prospect of brain control on proper consoles in the future. Give yourself a slap, because this is really going to happen.


The scientists behind the helicopter research hope to revolutionise the lives of disabled people, but we’ll bet our last penny the military will eventually get in on the action too. There’s nothing apart from health and safely laws to say the same science won’t apply to a real helicopter, given the right equipment.


Brain-control isn’t necessarily an expensive field of science to get into. A home-brew team of developers called B-Reel recently used the open-source Arduino platform and a special headset to control a Scalextric track using only the power of their minds.

Having said that, using brain waves will never be as cool as that crunchy feeling you get from a proper Scalextric controller. Some things are irreplaceable.
Are you excited at the prospect of sitting back and giving your thumbs a rest? Speak your mind in the comments, or on our telepathic Facebook page.

Image credit: Medgadget

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