Monday, May 19, 2008
Mind control games...yes way!
This is my colleague Logan Decker, one of the editors on PC Gamer magazine, demonstrating the control of a videogame with his mind. I know, I know – that's what I thought at first, too. "Inconceivable!" But I do not think that word means what you think it means. Because this headset actually does allow Logan (or anyone else) to command a videogame with their thoughts.
Well, technically, it’s not thoughts that do the job, but bio-feedback. The headset's sensors are detecting tiny skin palpitations to determine when you're thinking "Fire!" (as in, to fire your weapon in the game). So as you move around the game world, your character shoots whenever you think about shooting. It's like the movie Firefox, but for real.
I'm a huge skeptic and at first I thought it was crap. But I was convinced when I directed Logan in a little experiment – I asked him to fire in three-shot bursts at my specific verbal command. As he ran around the game world, I would intermittently say "Now!" and sure enough his character would fire a three-shot burst at the instant I commanded. Then I mixed it up, asking for a five-shot burst, and Logan delivered a five-shot burst…without so much as a twitch of his finger.
Convinced and delighted, I began crowing patriotically about the genius of American science. Then I realized…"Hmm, this might not be American technology." So I gingerly asked if it was…but yes, it is! Hooray! Another landmark for good ol' American know-how…another edge in our looming war with the rest of human civilization!