Friday, January 13, 2012

Control Game with Brain Waves

Haier, a Chinese electronics company, unveiled a video game controller that uses brain waves to control the action, with technology that may run televisions and more.
The BrainWave, being shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, is an apparatus that hangs over the head with one extension that presses up against the player's forehead, and another that clips to the earlobe.

"It doesn't read your mind or read your thoughts, or anything like that," said Kenji Higa, product specialist for Haier's Digital Products Group.
The controller uses NeuroSky technology, adapted from medical scanners that measure brainwaves. The controller can recognize and use simple commands that come from electrical signals through the scalp, and then translates them into digital signals to control game action.

Haier focused on using the technology for games, but is considering use it for a remote control for a television. The BrainWave TV is already available in China for about $3,000, but there are no plans yet to bring it to the U.S.

The technology is still being developed, and eventually, Haier wants to add more features, such as the ability to use brain waves to change television channels.
The brain control is not easy. Haier said players need "a relaxed mind and a dry forehead" for the device to work well, and one reviewer said he had a few "glorious moments," but the device was difficult to use.

Interaction between brain waves and devices have always fascinated the industry, but products generally remain clumsy or gimmicky. A mobile phone app and accessory released last year allowed users measure their brain waves and gain insight into their own health and well-being, for example.

It will take some time before BrainWave comes to the United States, but Haier has plenty of other products that will arrive stateside soon.
The Chinese company also unveiled several "smart home" devices, including a wine cooler that sends messages about its contents. Buyers can scan the bar code of a bottle of wine, and a digital inventory will let people know what's in the cooler, plus details about the wines.

Haier also plans to release a television that displays statuses about a person's home appliances, and will allow people with smartphones to send a message to the person's television.

The smart devices are all well within reach, but it likely will be some time before Haier releases its BrainWave technology in the U.S. And while the gadget is very advanced, its eventual cost may put it out of reach for those that aren't truly die-hard gamers.

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