[LINK] BBC: 'Brain control headset for gamers'

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Feb 21 10:03:56 EST 2008

[Comments at end]

Brain control headset for gamers
By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, San Francisco
Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 03:39 GMT

Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using 
their thoughts and emotions alone.

A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the 
brain will go on sale later this year.

"It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless 
signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm 

"It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment 
naturally and intuitively," she added.

The brain is made up of about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, 
which emit an electrical impulse when interacting. The headset 
implements a technology known as non-invasive electroencephalography 
(EEG) to read the neural activity.

Ms Le said: "Emotiv is a neuro-engineering company and we've created 
a brain computer interface that reads electrical impulses in the 
brain and translates them into commands that a video game can accept 
and control the game dynamically."

Headsets which read neural activity are not new, but Ms Le said the 
Epoc was the first consumer device that can be used for gaming.

"This is the first headset that doesn't require a large net of 
electrodes, or a technician to calibrate or operate it and does 
require gel on the scalp," she said. "It also doesn't cost tens of 
thousands of dollars."

The use of Electroencephalography in medical practice dates back 
almost 100 years but it is only since the 1970s that the procedure 
has been used to explore brain computer interfaces.

The headset could be used to improve the realism of emotional 
responses of AI characters in games

The Epoc technology can be used to give authentic facial expressions 
to avatars of gamers in virtual worlds. For example, if the player 
smiles, winks, grimaces the headset can detect the expression and 
translate it to the avatar in game.
It can also read emotions of players and translate those to the 
virtual world. "The headset could be used to improve the realism of 
emotional responses of AI characters in games," said Ms Le.
"If you laughed or felt happy after killing a character in a game 
then your virtual buddy could admonish you for being callous," she 
The $299 headset has a gyroscope to detect movement and has wireless 
capabilities to communicate with a USB dongle plugged into a computer.
The Emotiv said the headset could detects more than 30 different 
expressions, emotions and actions.
They include excitement, meditation, tension and frustration; facial 
expressions such as smile, laugh, wink, shock (eyebrows raised), 
anger (eyebrows furrowed); and cognitive actions such as push, pull, 
lift, drop and rotate (on six different axis).
Gamers are able to move objects in the world just by thinking of the action.
Emotiv is working with IBM to develop the technology for uses in 
"strategic enterprise business markets and virtual worlds"
Paul Ledak, vice president, IBM Digital Convergence said brain 
computer interfaces, like the Epoc headset were an important 
component of the future 3D Internet and the future of virtual 

Sensors respond to the electrical impulses behind different thoughts; 
enabling a user's brain to influence gameplay directly
Conscious thoughts, facial expressions, and non-conscious emotions 
can all be detected
Gyroscope enables a cursor or camera to be controlled by head movements
The headset uses wi-fi to connect to a computer

["Ms Le said the Epoc was the first consumer device that can be used 
for gaming".
[This must be about the 23rd announcement of this particular 
'innovation'.  [In the mid-to-late 1980s, I used it as a means of 
breaking students out of the keyboard-and-screen UI mindset.  I 
wasn't being at all innovative myself;  I was merely reflecting where 
the world was up to at the time.]
[Feeding interpretations of EEG readings forward to avatars *is* 
something I haven't tripped over before.  Maybe that's progress ...]

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

More information about the Link mailing list