NeuroSky worker Cynthia Lee wears one of their head sets at NeuroSky headquarters in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, March 27, 2007. The startup company aims to add more realistic elements to video games by using brain wave-reading technology to help game developers make gaming more realistic. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
NeuroSky's prototype measures a person's baseline brain-wave activity, including signals that relate to concentration, relaxation and anxiety. The technology ranks performance in each category on a scale of 1 to 100, and the numbers change as a person thinks about relaxing images, focuses intently, or gets kicked, interrupted or otherwise distracted.
Researchers at NeuroSky and other startups are also building prototypes of toys that use electromyography (EMG), which records twitches and other muscular movements, and electrooculography (EOG), which measures changes in the retina.
While NeuroSky's headset has one electrode, Emotiv Systems Inc. has developed a gel-free headset with 18 sensors.
Besides monitoring basic changes in mood and focus, Emotiv's bulkier headset detects brain waves indicating smiles, blinks, laughter, even conscious thoughts and unconscious emotions. Players could kick or punch their video game opponent - without a joystick or mouse.
"It fulfills the fantasy of telekinesis," said Tan Le, co-founder and president of San Francisco-based Emotiv.
At Emotiv, they are creating
a robust system and methodology for detecting and classifying both human conscious thoughts and non-conscious emotions. This revolutionary patent pending neural processing technology makes it possible for computers to interact directly with the human brain. By the detection of thoughts and feelings, our technology now makes it possible for applications to be controlled and influenced by the user's mind.
CyberLearning is already selling the SmartBrain Technologies system for the original PlayStation, PS2 and original Xbox, and it will soon work with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The EEG- and EMG-based biofeedback system costs about $600, not including the game console or video games.