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Canada: University of Alberta Students Develop Mind-Controlled Video Game

August 29, 2019

It may sound like science fiction, but some university students in Edmonton have developed a video game that players control with their thoughts, not their hands.

Using a neurotechnology headband, users control a simple game, dubbed the AlphaBlaster, where players have to defend themselves by shooting their enemies.

How much the player can “shoot” is based on the activity state of their brain, which the headband monitors, said Abdel Tayem, one of 10 University of Alberta students who worked on the project. The more brainwaves, the more they can shoot.

“Basically, it assesses whether the brain is active or (is in) resting state, and then changes the game accordingly,” said Tayem, who’s an undergraduate psychology student in U of A’s faculty of science.

“As you focus in more, your brain activity actually changes and ... we can pick that up on the headband — it is based on the electrical impulses that it’s receiving.”

Tayem is part of the U of A club NeurAlbertaTech, which explores the field of neurotechnology. His team began creating the game to enter it in a competition hosted by NeuroTechX, a non-profit that facilitates the advancement of neurotechnology.

The headband, which the competition host donated, is connected to a laptop through Bluetooth and then to a TV monitor or other screen. It takes a general reading of the brain’s activity levels in a particular frequency band known as alpha waves — hence the name of the game.

Tayem said previous research of the technology has shown evidence that alpha frequencies can be used as a measure of attention. When the alpha wave power is high, the person is usually not focused on the task at hand, and vice versa. Using those readings, the game can measure a person’s brain activity in real time and change the action of the player based on the activity level of their mind.

Source: Toronto Star