Saturday science subject: Brain-control bonanza

The OCZ NIA game controller we reviewed last summer may have been but a small taste of things to come. According to the New Scientist, several other controllers that can translate players' brain waves into input will hit the market over the coming months—and they could turn out to be more sophisticated. The science site elaborates:

Australian outfit Emotiv will release a headset whose 16 sensors make it possible to direct 12 different movements in a computer game. Emotiv says the helmet can also detect emotions. . . . Compatible with any PC running Windows, it will ship later this year for $299 (see image). They have shown off a game where the player moves stones to rebuild Stonehenge using mind power alone (see video).

Californian company NeuroSky has also built a device that can detect emotions: the firm says it can tell whether you are focused, relaxed, afraid or anxious, for example. . . . Rather than selling it directly to the public, NeuroSky is licensing its set-up to other companies, including Mattel, Nokia and Sega. Mattel, for example, will soon sell a game which involves players levitating a ball using thought alone (see video).

The Mattel game will reportedly cost only $80—peanuts compared to the price tags on electroencephalographs used for research. Those consumer-grade brain-wave readers might not wow only gamers, either. As the New Scientist predicts, hackers and tinkerers may have a field day with them, much like they did with Nintendo's Wii controller.

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