London, Feb 20 : It is said that 'mind rules the body', but now your brain will also be controlling your moves while playing video games.
Scientists have developed a neuro-headset that interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain and will enable gamers to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone.
"It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer. It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively," BBC quoted Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv, as saying.
The brain constitutes about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, that send out an electrical impulse at the time of interaction. This headset makes use of a technology called non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) for reading the neural activity.
"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," said Ms Le.
Though such headsets that read neural activity are not new, but Le said that the Epoc was the first of its kind 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. It also doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars," she said.
One of the prominent features of this headset is that it could be used to improve the realism of emotional responses of all the characters in games. It may also provide authentic facial expressions to avatars of gamers in virtual worlds. So it will be possible for the headset to detect the expressions of players when it smiles, winks, grimaces; 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. If you laughed or felt happy after killing a character in a game then your virtual buddy could admonish you for being callous," said Ms Le.
Costing around 299 dollars, this headset has a gyroscope for catching the movement and also makes use of Wi-Fi to communicate with a USB dongle plugged into a computer.
According to the Emotiv, the headset can detect more than 30 different expressions, emotions and actions. These are inclusive of 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).
It will now allow gamers to move objects in the world just by thinking of the action.
Currently, Emotiv is collaborating with IBM to develop the technology for uses in "strategic enterprise business markets and virtual worlds"
According to Paul Ledak, vice president, IBM Digital Convergence, brain computer interfaces, like the Epoc headset were an important component of the future 3D Internet and the future of virtual communication.