California Company Creates Games Players Control with Their Minds
The future is now! If iPhones, magical check-reading ATMs and cars that parallel park themselves weren’t enough to get you thinking about stocking up on ammo for the inevitable war against the robots, recent developments from NeuroSky Brain-Computer Interface Technologies might. The California company has developed a product called MindSet and has begun selling it to toy makers such as Mattel and Uncle Milton.
Jokes about the end of humankind aside, MindSet, the technology behind one of Parent Magazine’s 2009 Best Toys of the Year, MindFlex, is both useful and pretty damn cool. Basically, a small sensor worn on a headset “looks for patterns in brainwaves,” NeuroSky spokesperson Tansy Brook tells Paste.
The technology has its roots in the medical field and has for decades been used to detect seizures. NeuroSky recently re-engineered it to be more cost-effective and user-friendly. With MindFlex, users employ mental concentration and relaxation to control the movement of a small foam ball with a stream of air. NeuroSky has also developed a game called NeuroBoy that allows players to use concentration to light objects in the game on fire, or relax their minds to make objects levitate. “It ends up feeling like telekinesis because you can control things with your mind,” Brook explains. While she stresses that MindSet cannot read users’ thoughts (it measures only the electrical signals of players’ brainwaves), she mentions other technologies researchers are working on, including a brain-computer interface chip that can be implanted into the brain and allow the user to manipulate prosthetic limbs.
MindSet’s not just for those who want to wiggle balls in the air with their minds. It also has therapeutic applications for conditions such as ADHD, memory issues and anger management. “There’s a company developing an iPhone app where you can take a picture of someone you don’t like and [use MindSet] to practice relaxing while looking at it,” Brook says.
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