GDC 07: Project Epoc brings mind control to games

Emotiv Systems introduces new helmet that could allow gamers to leave behind joysticks and buttons in favor of thoughts and emotions.

Emotiv Systems today unveiled a brain/computer interface system with a helmet and software applications at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The Project Epoc system can move objects based on a gamer's thoughts, reflect facial expressions, and respond to the excitement or calm the gamer mentally exerts, the company said.

Sensors in the helmet pick up on electric signals in the brain. The system software analyzes the signals emitted by the brain and then wirelessly relays what it detects to a receiver. The receiver is plugged into the USB port of a game console or PC, according to Randy Breen, Emotiv's chief product officer.

As with handwriting or voice recognition, the machine itself has a learning curve, improving as it better understands what the player is thinking, but there is also a skill level involving visualization on the part of the gamer.

Anecdotally, the system seems to work best with children and others open to believing in their capability, according to Breen. It seems that gamers who believe in their ability to manipulate the virtual world with their brain--the kind of people who are skilled at using their imagination, in other words--are better at using the device.

"The detection works best when you think about that action in a particular way, repeating that thought pattern," Breen said.

"We have had a number of kids try the equipment, and they often get the best results right away," Breen said. "Part of that is because the kid doesn't have the same kind of barriers as an adult does. Lots of kids can fantasize about moving a cup and believe it."

Adults, on the other hand, are more definitive in their thinking and thus have a barrier to believing that they can do something out of the ordinary, Breen said.

While almost anyone can do at least one action with the device, Breen said some adults require practice to master up to three simultaneous actions.

The helmet shown at the show is only a prototype to demonstrate to game developers what can be done with the technology. While Emotiv is not yet ready to announce any partnerships, Breen did say the product will be coming to market in 2008.

In conjunction with Project Epoc's debut, the company launched a kit for game developers Wednesday. Emotiv also announced that it is developing its technology for use in other industries, including medicine, security, market research, and interactive television.

Emotiv, which was founded in 2003, has offices both in Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco. The company counts among its investors the Australian government. One of its four cofounders is Allan Snyder, director of The Centre for the Mind, a joint venture of the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. Steven Duvall, the director of technology for Intel Capital's International Sector, serves as an adviser to the company.

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Discussion

72 comments
Agulf
Agulf

2007? More like 2008. How did I miss this story in 2007? Hmpf

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

This sounds a little strange to me. More info is needed.

HostileEffect
HostileEffect

I would dominate with this thing! I day dream a lot and I'm exploring lucid dreaming... dude, its the only way to fly! Pictures plz!

theKSMM
theKSMM

This makes me think of someone trying to master his psychokinetic powers. "Move the cup with your mind, Mr. Jones." Seconds later the spoon goes flying off the table.

spelledarn
spelledarn

Sounds awesome. Looking forward to true VR games.

rossjaxom
rossjaxom

http://www.emotiv.com/2_0/2_1.htm image of the device/ flash needed has anyone watched the movie "strange days"- it reminds me of a squidee I think its a great idea, huge learning curve, not only stimulation of playing a game, but having to visualize at the same time. The theory as to it's function is sound, but the time needed to generalize it for the mass consumer is huge!

chutup
chutup

ABSOLUTELY SWEET now stephen hawking can play games too.

botanisk
botanisk

Why all the negative comments. And mind control helmets, come on an leave your conspire theories at home. This is innovative. I mean compared to this, the Wii control scheme is stoneage. I say hurray

xronc
xronc

Im interested but afraid, id like to see some people try it out and see if any secondary effects ahppen before even getting close to this

pencilpusher69
pencilpusher69

"hitomo "Part of that is because the kid doesn't have the same kind of barriers as an adult does. Lots of kids can fantasize about moving a cup and believe it." how can one talk such BS.... "I'm more excited about actually using my body to become part of the interaction of the games" there's a great barriere-less thing clled life, wich you are already part of by using your body... games only using ur brain for interaction, the opposite of this is called life.... check it out" I'm not even sure what it its you're saying. Books, check'em out.

bum_boy
bum_boy

I smell brain cancer!

epormada
epormada

*steps up to counter* Uh yeah, I'll take one of those mind control helmets and a flying car please, Thank You.

epormada
epormada

Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill!

Spincut
Spincut

first of all, where is the picture to this crazy prototype helmet? does it look like the crazy thing doc brown was wearing in Back To The Future? also, i can predict the actual release date for this magic technology right now. Roughly around the third quarter of NEVER!!!

Endrance
Endrance

Soon we'll be able to log into, "The World"...

Surllio
Surllio

Repent, repent, for the end is near. The end is very near. Just what we need. Seriously, this is a very dangerous thing to be venturing into.

hexmarkXXV
hexmarkXXV

I desperately want to see a picture of this gadget.

santaman64
santaman64

"Use the force, Gamers" Move your x-wing out of the swamp yourself!!!!

Mikazukinoyaiba
Mikazukinoyaiba

Sorry but .hack/ scared the idea of having anything attached to my head in order to operate or play in a virtual world. When games start hacking into my brain, that is when gaming and the sake of "immersion" gets to be too far. We already have people that are addicted to MMORPGS like WoW and forsake responsibiliteis and reality for it, that number will increase and grow more dangerous with something like this happening in the most likely distant future.

BadMunky
BadMunky

sounds awsome but i bet it's gonna cost a lot!

Enginwolf04
Enginwolf04

The future is here...... I can't wait to see how this killer app will be instituted into the games of tomorrow.... this'll be very interesting

R3DN1N3
R3DN1N3

If that ever happens that's gonna suck. I don't like the idea of computers handling everything. Computers will one day drive us from point A to B, computers will detect emotions, computers will do surgury, computers will fight wars, computers computers COMPUTERS! All I have to say is HELL NO. I'm never giving up the ability to play games by pushing buttons and joysticks. If we all just did everything through thought alone, not only will it get boring fast but it would be like watching TV.

Gigatron
Gigatron

seriously, think about this helment combined with a VR visor. Equip yourself with a motion sensing thingy, and voila! Total interactivity.

Timotht
Timotht

Awesome, next step total immersion video games :D

Maleorder
Maleorder

A short time ago there was a news article reporting that Nintendo was entertaining the idea of a console without a traditional controller, but a VR system. Could this be a part of the Next Nintendo console? Along with the Wiimote this could change gaming forever.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Now that is bizzare. It would be cool if this works out, but if it does it will probably be a while before it's widely available.

JSharpe_187
JSharpe_187

I would be bad at that, my mind wanders too much, my character i nthe game would be doing some pretty weird stuff

Lord_Guan_Yu187
Lord_Guan_Yu187

"As with handwriting or voice recognition, the machine itself has a learning curve, improving as it better understands what the player is thinking, but there is also a skill level involving visualization on the part of the gamer." So where is the part about the Chosen One coming out? Is his name gonna be Neo too?

dukerav
dukerav

Creepy? Yes. Interesting? Most definitely. I wonder if/when this technology will be developed for use in games and how it will be utilized? This makes the Wii-mote seem like, forgive me, but... crap.

Gigatron
Gigatron

this combined with some sort of motion sensing would be amazing

Game-o_O
Game-o_O

Angelic Layer~ Woot, I would love to try one of those. Ps. Are their any videos of this in action? I want to see how well it performs.

Waskallywabbit
Waskallywabbit

This is exciting news...in a creepy sort of way.

Gigatron
Gigatron

there is no spoon! A digital world you can manipulate? Pretty mind-blowing stuff.

hitomo
hitomo

"Part of that is because the kid doesn't have the same kind of barriers as an adult does. Lots of kids can fantasize about moving a cup and believe it." how can one talk such BS.... "I'm more excited about actually using my body to become part of the interaction of the games" there's a great barriere-less thing clled life, wich you are already part of by using your body... games only using ur brain for interaction, the opposite of this is called life.... check it out

vaejas
vaejas

Cheers for the Minority Report pic! I love GameSpot News.

pencilpusher69
pencilpusher69

Considering that they just got one of these things to play Space Invaders, I'm skeptical about the claims that this company is making. Not to mention, I'm more excited about actually using my body to become part of the interaction of the games. Sitting on my butt, making things happen with a mere thought has very little interest to me.

gamecube120
gamecube120

I'm thinking that headaches will result from this machine. Lots of them.

danof76
danof76

Boo. Just boo. Somehow I like the physical medium required to play games, I don't want any electronic to ever interface directly with my body like this. I don't care if it's the standard in 30 years, I'll never adhere to it.

dmn_link
dmn_link

It's just a matter of time before will all become Professor Charles Xavier. :) ( X men )