Tuesday 24 June 2008

Use your brain power Luke!

When you put the headset on for the first time, Emotiv's software takes you through a number of routines to determine what your mind looks like when you think, say, "lift." Then, the next time you think "lift," your brain will (hopefully) produce a similar EEG wave, and the system will know what you want.

When it hits store shelves by the end of the year, Emotiv's $299 headset -- for PC games only, at least at first -- will include one game that incorporates many of these pattern-learning routines. At Emotiv's office here in San Francisco, I played a version of this intro game. In it, you play a martial-arts warrior in training. Your warrior-master guides you through techniques that help you translate your thoughts into on-screen actions.

Thinking my way through a video game was terrific fun. The warrior-master asked me to clear my mind, and then to imagine myself levitating a boulder a few feet off the ground. I concentrated, my brain working as hard as it's ever worked. [Ed's. note: You're making this too easy...]

The boulder began to levitate, but as soon as it did, my excitement that the thing was working broke my concentration, and the boulder tumbled.

I tried again, and this time the game responded within a second -- the boulder floated off the ground. As I pushed through the warrior landscape, I was asked to move more and bigger hurdles -- a mountain, a bridge I had to get across -- and by the third or fourth time, the objects seemed almost to be lifting themselves. I didn't even have to think about thinking: Simply seeing the object, comprehending that it needed to be lifted, sent it flying up. There was something very nearly magical to it.

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