Virtual world allows paraplegics to 'walk'

Boffins at the UK's University College London are creating an immersive virtual world which can be navigated through thinking about moving, reports The New Scientist. In partnership with a team at the Graz University of Technology in Austria--which specialises in measuring signals from the brain...

Boffins at the UK's University College London are creating an immersive virtual world which can be navigated through thinking about moving, reports The New Scientist. In partnership with a team at the Graz University of Technology in Austria--which specialises in measuring signals from the brain via electrodes or implants--the two groups have joined together in order to create a virtual world which disabled players can navigate using only their imaginations.

To play the game, electrodes are attached to the player's scalp, and electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment monitors the electrical activity in their brain. Then the gamer simply imagines moving forwards, or raising their left or right arm, which move their avatar forward, or turns it left or right. To heighten the feeling of immersion, they sit inside a room at UCL where the game is projected onto the three walls in front of them, as well as the floor. A pair of shuttered glasses can also be worn, to create the illusion of 3D, which "intensifies the overall feeling of being inside the simulated reality."

During a trial, a paraplegic patient was tasked with using his thoughts to move his avatar towards various virtual characters to talk with them, and was able to do so approximately 90 percent of the time.

A team at Southampton University is already using brain controlled interfaces to treat people recovering from strokes, and it was also suggested that the technology could increase the prospects of the disabled to work and experience social interaction.

US-based Rochester Institute of Technology assistant computer science professor, Jessica Bayliss--who also specializes in brain-computer interfaces--commented, "A system such as this could be very motivational for a patient to use for training. It reminds me of how people with various handicaps are playing World of Warcraft, because they are able to do things in the virtual world that they can't do in the real world."

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19 comments
omegabyte
omegabyte

"And as RyanVR said, can you imagine a game where you wear shuttered 3D glasses and play the game using your mind? The possibilities are quite literally endless, and would be about as close to true virtual reality as you can get." I expect the possibilities are actually quite limited. Note in the story the methods used to actually move the character onscreen. Imagine raising your right or left arm to turn right or left. In this case, the action imagined does not correspond to the action presented in the game. Why would this be? Most likely because the technology required to actually read and translate brain waves is extremely complicated, and building a viable programming language capable of registering all the complex interactions between the human brain and the body to make it actually feasible for developers to create games for it would be ridiculously difficult. I have to say that this the fact that the technology is this far along is incredible, but the sort of immersive game experience you're thinking of is decades away, if it's even possible. But it would be freaking cool.

Twinturbo120
Twinturbo120

yup....the gaming cop pretty much makes things come to life

MogFromLeipzig
MogFromLeipzig

Amazing but kinda frightening, too... It can read your mind! 8[

ssj4_2004
ssj4_2004

Squire_ramza, I might have met this Hobo. Is the the one with the CIA transmitter in his teeth?

Squire_Ramza
Squire_Ramza

One step closer to the government being able to brainwash us just like the hobo in the tinfoil hat always told me

surppo
surppo

sony had patented brainwave technology in 2005. i saw the first brainwave game controller in popular mechanics a couple of months ago it'll be out next year for pc

Jaeme
Jaeme

Videogames are possibly the most wonderful single invention for cripples(like me). They allow for an escape from the horrible day to day existance as well as often providing benifits in health(physical and mental) that can`t be gotten in any other way.

lamprey263
lamprey263

This is slightly off topic, but considering we're talking about paraplegics, check out the website TheyShallWalk.Org; this guy built a suit so paraplegics can walk, for real.

TrumpyTheDog
TrumpyTheDog

Yes it could be a leap in gaming, but no-ones going to see it in a console for years and years.... just waiting for Sony to release the PS5 with the comment "Controllers are so last gen"

GabuEx
GabuEx

@Trumpy: I don't think that many people realize that gaming is responsible for huge advancements in many areas of computer science, the most prominent being artificial intelligence, and with others being the real-time rendering of alterable scenarios, motion sensing, and so on. Quite honestly, I don't think that stuff like this would have ever been possible were it not for games. So this has everything to do with gaming, despite not being about a single game in particular. And as RyanVR said, can you imagine a game where you wear shuttered 3D glasses and play the game using your mind? The possibilities are quite literally endless, and would be about as close to true virtual reality as you can get.

Andonio
Andonio

Yeah, one second the politicians are all "video games screw you up", and the next they are all "oh they are great blah blah blah". lol "populist pigs", is what they are.

blackenrocker
blackenrocker

I think gaming is, in large part, responsible for this. One of the best aspects of gaming, to me personally, is the way it encourages growth in MANY other aspects of daily life. From application enhancements, to restoring injured peoples' confidence or belief in feeling confident again. This kind of Achievement makes me proud as all hill to be a Gamer...with a Capital G! Where's JackT at to give us some cred. for encouraging this type of behaviour??? Oh, that's right- he's out probably trying to make criminals of these Saints. I hope you understand, fully, what you're involved in as a Video Gamer. After all, we're the Lewis and Clarks' of this digital frontier. Our interest fuels advancements in many untrumpeted points.

high_flier429
high_flier429

Im with RyanVR on this one, hopefully we can see this type of technology applied to games within our lifetime.

RyanVR
RyanVR

Re: Trumpy Ever thought of controlling a game with i don't know...lets say your mind, and not your hands on a physical controller? Try not being shortsighted.

c_rakestraw
c_rakestraw moderator moderator

That's interesting.

TrumpyTheDog
TrumpyTheDog

Aside from the WOW comment at the bottom, this has WHAT to do with gaming?

JSharpe_187
JSharpe_187

Wow, looks like the technology isn't crap, it worked 90% of the time.

Emma_UK
Emma_UK

Boffins at the UK's University College London are creating an immersive virtual world which can be navigated through thinking about moving, reports The New Scientist. In partnership with a team at the Graz University of Technology in Austria--which specialises in measuring signals from the brain via electrodes or implants--the two groups have joined together in order to create a virtual world which disabled players can navigate using only their imaginations.

To play the game, electrodes are attached to the player's scalp, and electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment monitors the electrical activity in their brain. Then the gamer simply imagines moving forwards, or raising their left or right arm, which move their avatar forward, or turns it left or right. To heighten the feeling of immersion, they sit inside a room at UCL where the game is projected onto the three walls in front of them, as well as the floor. A pair of shuttered glasses can also be worn, to create the illusion of 3D, which "intensifies the overall feeling of being inside the simulated reality."

During a trial, a paraplegic patient was tasked with using his thoughts to move his avatar towards various virtual characters to talk with them, and was able to do so approximately 90 percent of the time.

A team at Southampton University is already using brain controlled interfaces to treat people recovering from strokes, and it was also suggested that the technology could increase the prospects of the disabled to work and experience social interaction.

US-based Rochester Institute of Technology assistant computer science professor, Jessica Bayliss--who also specializes in brain-computer interfaces--commented, "A system such as this could be very motivational for a patient to use for training. It reminds me of how people with various handicaps are playing World of Warcraft, because they are able to do things in the virtual world that they can't do in the real world."