Mindbender: Edmonton tech students create mind-controlled video game
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, November 17, 2013 8:42AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 17, 2013 11:38PM EST
A group of Edmonton students has developed a video game that lets users control an avatar using their minds.
Dubbed Project Vulcan, the prototype is a science fiction game created by digital and IT students at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Set aboard a space station, the goal of the game is to overtake enemy robots and convert them into an army of allies.
But to do so requires more than pushing buttons on a handheld controller.
Wearing neuroscan headgear, participants use their thoughts to prompt action onscreen, says NAIT game design instructor Armand Cadieux.
The electroencephalogram (EEG) headset features a series of contact points that read different regions of the mind and then map them into controls.
"So when I think about pushing, I can actually push objects, or pull or lift," Cadieux said in an interview with CTV News. "The functionality of this is extremely fast, faster than I can ever click a button combo on a game controller. When that thought hits my mind, my character is moving -- it's instantaneous."
Up until recently, the brain-sensor technology has only seen extensive use in the medical field. As the technology becomes more commercially available, Cadieux said, its uses are expanding into game development.
"We can buy these neuro-headsets off the shelf at a very low, affordable price," he said, adding that only a handful of games have been produced using similar technology.
Cadieux said the hands- and motion-free device opens up gaming to those with restricted mobility.
Brain sensors only add to the list of innovations currently being explored in the gaming industry, said Cadieux, pointing out the increasing popularity of voice, image and motion recognition.
"Bringing these all together is totally going to change the environment of how we create and play games in the next few years," he said.
The NAIT students are working on their second version of the game with a completion date expected sometime next year.
Project Vulcan was named in tribute to Star Trek's "Vulcan mind meld," a form of telepathy used by the Vulcan population on the hit TV series.