Awakening uses Neurable technology to let you control the experience with just your mind.
Mind-control technology is nothing new. Once considered nothing more than farfetched science fiction, neuroscientists have since taken a much more optimistic stance on the potentially game-changing tech thanks to advances in brain-computer interfaces. In fact, one startup is claiming they’ll have a mind-controlled virtual reality game in VR arcades as soon as 2018.
Developed by VR & AR neurotech company Neurable in partnership with eStudioFuture, Awakening is a VR game that has users step into the shoes of a young child being held prisoner and experimented on in a mysterious government laboratory. There, you’ll discover that the various tests conducted on you have resulted in powerful telekinetic abilities. Using these newfound powers you must escape your cell, defeat your robot prison guards and somehow gain access to the outside world. However, instead of using conventional motion controllers, you’ll complete all the tasks using nothing but your own mind.
According to Neurable, their upgraded headband for the HTC Vive combined with their advanced machine learning platform now means that players need only think to interact with their virtual environment. Several electrodes placed specifically over areas that detect brain signals known as “event-related potentials” track small electrical movements associated with human movements, sensory experiences and thoughts in real-time.
Here’s an example: The player is given several photos of various animals to choose from in VR. By simply thinking about one of the animals provided, the player is able to select the photo of that particular creature. This is shown several times throughout the video provided above. The player is able to use their thoughts in order to select a particular object from the list provided.
So while this does appear to be a working BCI in action, it’s an incredibly simplistic form that just barely scratches the surface of this exciting technology. And according to several researchers, this is more-than-likely the best you’re going to see from this platform for quite some time. Jack Gallant, head of UC Berkeley’s Neuroscience Lab, explained to The Guardian that Neurable’s sensory technology was “conceptually trivial but just about impossible to do” due in large part to the complexity of capturing and decoding brain signals through the thick human skull.
Neurable CEO Ramses Alcaide remains optimistic though, stating how many first-time users skeptical of the quality ended up walking away satisfied: “A lot of people come in highly skeptical, because BCI has been a disappointment so many times before,” he explained to IEEE Spectrum. “But as soon as they grab an object, there’s a smile that comes over their faces. You can see the satisfaction that it really works.”
Of course if this technology takes off the potential could span much further than video games. Thought-controlled text input, user-interface navigation, neuroscience research, object manipulation, all possible use-cases for effective mind-control interaction.
Neurable showed off Awakening and its technology at this years SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference taking that took place earlier this month.
Image Credit: VRScout