‘This Is Not a Test’

You are playing a character in a virtual reality world. This is the first command to hear receive upon entering. You of course, see and hear all the VR images before you as you move through this space. You discover the coolest thing about this particular game is that  you accomplish your goals in the game, like smashing a glass window or unlocking a door, simply by using your mind to do your bidding. No wires, no hands, no hand-held weapons. You are magical, and your mind has the power to control that magic. Cool huh? Author Eliza Strickland, explains this exciting VR news, in an article for IEEE Spectrum.

The technology that makes this game possible is a brain-scanning headband that is attached to a VR headset. That headband, paired with software that interprets the neural signals, enables wearers to play games without using any sort of hand controller. The creators of this brain-computer interface system, at the Boston-based startup Neurable, believe this intuitive controller will be the next big thing in VR. “We’ve essentially created a brain mouse,” says Ramses Alcaide, Neurable’s cofounder and CEO.

Awakening, the world’s first brain-controlled VR game, will arrive in VR arcades around the world this year.

If you have used the typical VR setup, then you know about the paddles the player uses to manipulate your way through the game. With Awakening, you think your moves. The headband you are wearing makes use of a type of brain signal called  “event related potential.”

As you focus on a toy block that’s pulsing with light, for example, your brain subconsciously registers its particular pattern of flashes, and certain neurons “fire” in response. Neurable’s software processes the noisy EEG data, finds the signal therein, and translates it into a game command.

Photo of person wearing VR headset.

Photo: Neurable

Jacked In: Neurable’s new virtual reality headband uses a set of electrodes to measure the user’s EEG (electroencephalography) signals.

Neurable hired a VR graphics company to create what most consider a rather unsophisticated story line. And that was part of the plan says co-founder Rames Alcaide.  The company offers a developers kit,  that game designers can use to devise all manner of VR worlds, that can use the Neurable head set to come alive hands free in any world they choose.  In other words “You won’t have to wave your arms around or talk out loud on the bus,”says Alcaide.  You can still interact with most any gaming platform.

Some might question the wisdom of beginning in arcades with its release.  However, Strickland points out,

Rolling out the game in VR arcades is a smart strategy, says Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at the research firm IDC, headquartered in Framingham, Mass., who coauthored a recent VR market report. Ubrani says the high price of VR headsets has prevented widespread adoption, particularly because consumers don’t have many opportunities to try before they buy. “I think VR arcades will play a very important role,” Ubrani says. “They make it easy for people to try it out and learn about the VR experience.” While only a handful of such arcades have opened in the United States and Europe, Ubrani says they’re already “hugely popular” in China and elsewhere in East Asia.

You can see the application of this technology already poised to soar and its starts to soar this year, 2018. It will become streamlined even more with in the two years. It will be reduced to a sensor that will fit into an ear bud.  A Virtual Reality game world, controlled by your REAL MIND.   How exciting to have new interface with endless roads before us to take it down and perhaps, really improve our REAL world with just the power of THOUGHT. We are on the brink of having that ability to apply magic to the real world, with somewhat similar success that we can apply in the virtual world.  Imagine That!

read more at ieee.org