Soon, a headset that allows you to control video games via the mind

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Sydney, May 7 : Forget hand controlled joysticks and make way for a computer headset that allows people to control their favourite video games by the power of their minds.

Australian company, Emotiv Systems, founded by four Oz scientists in 2003, will release the 299 US dollars EPOC headset on the US market this year.

Australians will be able to order it online.

Featuring 14 sensors that measure electrical impulses from the brain, the headset - which plugs into the PC's USB port - will enable games to register facial expressions, emotions and even cognitive thoughts, allowing players to perform in-game actions just by visualizing them.

The headset works in a similar way to voice recognition, in that it must first be calibrated using Emotiv's software to recognise patterns in the user's electrical brain impulses, which are used to perform 30 preset actions.

When the player performs those same thoughts in the game the software knows to associate them with the correct action, such as rotate object or push object.

"If you look at the way we communicate with machines up to this day, it's always in a conscious form, so whether you turn on and off the light or you program software you always consciously tell a machine to perform a task for you," Sydney Morning Herald quoted Emotiv CEO and co-founder Nam Do, as saying in an interview.

"But the communication among ourselves is much more interesting because we have non-conscious communications, so we read body language, we read facial expressions and we also have feelings and emotions which differentiate us from machines.

"Our vision for the next generation of man-machine interface is it's not going to be limited to just conscious [interaction]," Do added.

While the headset will work in a very limited sense with existing titles, Do said the major game developers and publishers were designing a number of their upcoming titles to take full advantage of the technology.

For instance, an in-game avatar would be able to mimic the human player's facial expressions - smiles, winks, grimaces, and so on - in real time, and other non-human characters in the game could respond to these.

"If you shoot somebody and you're smiling, the non-player character can turn around and say to you, 'What are you laughing at? You just killed that dude,' " Do said.

The headset could also detect the players' emotions - whether they're bored, angry, engaged, happy, stressed, etc - and adjust difficulty levels, in-game music and the game environment accordingly.

Characters could also react to a player's emotional cues.

In horror-themed games, enemies could intelligently select the perfect time to startle a player based on how they feel, rather than having opponents in the same positions every time a mission is reloaded.

But the most powerful aspect of the EPOC is its ability to detect thoughts. Players can just think about performing actions, such as lifting or pushing objects or making them disappear, and have the game act accordingly without the need to push any keys or buttons.

ANI

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