It was only a matter of time, really: mind-controlled VR is coming to arcades before the end of the year, according to Neurable, a tech start-up in Boston. Their upcoming game, Awakening, seems to put the player in the shoes of a telepathic child not unlike Eleven from Stranger Things. After waking up in a lab, the player does most of the work of breaking out with only their minds. They'll accomplish this using brain-scanning technology developed in-house by Neurable, and that's only the beginning.
The headset acts as something of a controller on its own, attaching to the HTC Vive headset in examples provided by IEEE Spectrum. It uses a set of seven large electrodes to scan your brain's EEG signals and animate your actions in-game. Ramses Alcaide, Neurable's cofounder and CEO, calls the device a "brain mouse," as it eliminates the need for any other form of controller outside of your own thoughts. Neurable's technology uses a series of flashing lights in-game to trigger the controls needed in your mind; Spectrum's report uses a flashing toy block as an example, which causes your brain to register the pattern of light that causes neurons to "fire" in response. The software that Neurable created is able to process this "noisy" EEG data, find the signal within it, and turn that into the command you need: use the toy block. It sounds complex, but it happens in less than a second.
It's worth noting that while this application of mind-controlled VR is the first of its kind, it's also part of a wave of developing technology built around the concept of controller-free VR. San Francisco-based company Leap Motion is working on new hand-tracking technology of its own.
"We're not game designers," noted Alcaide, who didn't seem like he wanted players to get hyped for any kind of deep story. "We don't know how to lead players through these environments... The narrative is the hard part, not the technology." So while a linear storyline might not be something you get right out of the gate with mind-controlled VR, the option to play anything like a Jedi might is still pretty exciting.
Source: IEEE Spectrum