He's the Future of Video Gaming...and Your Father

Dennis Faas's picture

Somewhere in a small Silicon Valley cubicle stands a life-like replica of Darth Vader. The statuesque figure has the same ominous mask, cape and light saber that have become synonymous with the character since first appearing on the silver screen decades ago.

What sets this replica apart from the millions of others that appear at conventions and theme shops all across North America is this one represents the next generation in technological innovation. If people were impressed with what the Nintendo Wii could do, they ain't seen nothin' yet!

Darth Vader is actually a prototype for a mind-reading game that has taken years to develop. Once a player puts on the mask, a sensor attaches to their forehead and reads their brain's electrical signals. The sensor then transmits the information to a wireless receiver located inside the light saber, which lights up when the user is concentrating. The player must focus all of their concentration on a fixed image to keep the light saber lit. When the mind starts to wander away from the fixed image, the light saber goes dark. (Source: technology.canoe.ca)

The technology used to create the game has been referred to as "biofeedback".

Researchers at NeuroSky Inc. have some incredible plans for future brain wave-reading toys and video games. The Darth Vader game is only the start of more mentally stimulating and realistic devices that would change the way we play video games. It could even lead to players controlling video game characters and avatars in virtual worlds with nothing more than their thoughts.

The Darth Vader prototype measures baseline brain-wave activity, including signals that relate to concentration, relaxation and anxiety. The biofeedback technology ranks performance in each category on a scale of 1 to 100, and the numbers change as a person moves from relaxing images to distracting thoughts. (Source: funpal.net)

Analysts believe that biofeedback technology could even boost mental focus and help kids combat attention deficit disorder, autism and other mood imbalances.

Still, others question whether people who use biofeedback devices will be able to replicate their relaxed or focused states in real life.

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