updated 10:10 pm EST, Tue December 11, 2007
Sega mind-controlled toys
While Nintendo's Wii continues to soar off game store shelves with its intuitive motion-sensitive controls, Sega Toys and NeuroSky look to do one better and are teaming up to produce mind-controlled toys, using wearable bio-sensors to monitor brainwaves, courtesy of the latter company. NeuroSky says that this is Sega's latest venture in "taking play to the next level", and that with the ThinkGear bio-sensor, it will achieve just that. Unfortunately, neither company commented on what upcoming ideas to which they are applying the technology.
NeuroSky recently gave Wired's Gadget Lab a glimpse of what its neurological sensors are capable of, by using a modified version of the Half-Life 2 engine. Blogger Rob Beschizza ran through the environment, picking up cars and desks, tossing watermelons at walls, and going up against another player using only NeuroSky's sensor.
As the device is currently still in testing, it looks fairly low-tech, made from a modified computer headset. The sensor is built into the mic piece, and lightly touches the forehead. There is no contact gel required for the unit, hence it is referred to as a "dry" sensor.
Update: Rob Beschizza clarified that the test he underwent was still using a mouse and keyboard to control the majority of the character's movement, and that NeuroSky's sensor merely controlled one function. The "pick up" versus "throw" actions were influenced by whichever mouse button was held down.
"As for the mechanism, it's supposedly measures electrical activity," said Beschizza. "However, the sensors are placed near muscles which tighten and relax when you concentrate, so it could actually be a very simple physical mechanism. I [have] no reason to think they'd do that, but it is sort of interesting."