The technology behind Neurosky's Mindset is essentially the same that was peddled around last year at trade shows. The only difference now is that it's ready for PC gaming consumption starting in July.
For those in the dark, the Neurosky Mindset, is a gaming controller that monitors brainwaves, and uses those readings to carry out specific actions within a game. In demos, this includes sliding boxes, lifting objects, and setting crap on fire. It also doubles as a pair of Headphones with a bluetooth mic built-in.
So how well does it work? I didn't spend tons of time with the demo, but I thought it was pretty intuitive, and I was able to channel different types of mind focus into in-game action. When asked to relax in order to levitate an item, I consciously made myself "relax." Lo and behold, the car started flying in the air. "Concentration" occurs when you focus intently on one point on the screen. I wasn't the greatest at this.
The headset is pretty light and sits comfortably over your ears with the probe that rests on your forehead. This probe helps pickup brainwave signals, or "electrical potentials" to be exact. During calibration, the computer detects the type and magnitude of waves you generate in certain scenarios, then adjusts the sensitivity so that gameplay is achievable for everyone.
And to be clear, the Mindset isn't trying to replace standard gaming controls as they exist now. Rather, they're trying to add functionality that doesn't require further, more complex button combos, but intuitive hands-free gestures instead.
The Mindset will be available in July for roughly $200. Neurosky says they would like to partner up with companies and developers down the road (they're launching with Toshiba in Japan), but want to get the hardware out there so that apps can start showing up in the marketplace.
Outside of the PC gaming world, Neurosky says they're working on putting the same technology into cars, where the seats can detect how you're feeling and predict what you need (music, heater, A/C, answering in-car phone). They're also working with medical groups and companies to test disorders like ADD and Cerebral Palsy, and will even produce a DS memory game using a custom headset later this year.
As it stands now, the sticking point with the Neurosky Mindset is that it will depend on third-party developer support to really get off the ground. It won't add new functionality to old games, nor will they be developing their own apps. But they will have an SDK ready over the summer so that people can program their own apps around the device. [Neurosky]
NeuroSky® and Toshiba® to Launch Brainwave-Reading Headset for PCs
San Jose, California (March 26, 2009) – Toshiba, Inc., a leading manufacturer of personal computer (PC) equipment, and NeuroSky, Inc., a Brain-Computer-Interface (BCI) technology company, today announced the launch of a jointly-developed brainwave-based advance headset that operates with most PC products.
The MindSet™ wireless Bluetooth® headset features brainwave-reading and mental-state-translational technology from NeuroSky, Inc., a Silicon Valley company. With earlier NeuroSky partner announcements in the toy (Uncle Milton Force Trainer™, under a Lucas Licensing deal) and video gaming industries (Square Enix Judecca™), the Toshiba-NeuroSky product launch represents the first BCI peripheral directed to mainstream PC users.
"The joint development effort between Toshiba and NeuroSky is a historic step into fusing brainwave-enabled peripherals into the mass market of computer users," stated Hitoshi Tokuda, General Manager of the PC Options Marketing Division at Toshiba.
Stanley Yang, CEO of NeuroSky, considers this announcement a key milestone for both companies. "This Toshiba and NeuroSky partnership is an exciting step towards revolutionizing the way people interact with computers."
Game Developers Conference
NeuroSky will be demonstrating the MindSet along with a variety of partner products at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in booth #6402, North Hall, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, on March 23-27.
How MindSet Works
The MindSet headset resembles a pair of headphones with one distinct difference-a single electrode-fitted arm that contacts with the user's forehead. The electrode reads the electrical potentials found on the skin's surface, which are induced by the neuron activity that occurs in the frontal lobe of the user's brain. Various "mental states" of the users-for example, their level of focus and relaxation-can be deciphered from the brainwave patterns. That information can be passed to a variety of PC-based applications for entertainment, health, wellness, education, and training purposes.
Pricing and Availability
The MindSet may now be pre-ordered by consumers, application developers and researchers on the NeuroSky website (www.NeuroSky.com).
The headset will be available to order online under the NeuroSky brand for U.S. residents on June 1, 2009, and roll out to select international markets later this year. MindSet will be priced at $199 (MSRP) and will be accompanied by two demonstration games, Brainwave Visualizer™ and The Adventures of NeuroBoy™. Alternative developer programs will continue to be available on a worldwide basis through NeuroSky.
Both consumers and developers will be offered further incentives with this summer's launch of the NeuroSky Application Store, a portal of downloadable, third-party applications created by the NeuroSky Developer Network.
Begin harnessing the power of your mind with the NeuroSky MindSet headset. This Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) turns your thoughts into actions, unlocking new worlds of interactivity. By measuring your brain waves, the headset can send messages to your computer-allowing you to control the computer with your thoughts. The NeuroSky MindSet can be paired with video games, research devices or a number of other tools for an enhanced user experience.
New applications are coming soon, so get your Mindset to begin developing your mind power.
* The MindSet reports the wearer's mental state in the form of NeuroSky's proprietary Attention and Meditation eSense algorithms.
* Captures brainwave signals from 0-30Hz.
* Providing information on a user's Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma EEG band power levels
* Features Bluetooth microphone input and stereo audio output capabilities.
* Instructional videos and detailed documentation
* "NeuroBoy," - a game demo and example environment that highlights different ways to implement NeuroSky's brainwave algorithms. In the game, you play as NeuroBoy, a gifted kid with mental super powers. Float, push, burn, and interact with the world using your mental might.
* Brainwave Visualizer and NeuroSky's demonstration tools - The Brainwave Visualizer paints brainwave activity dynamically displaying the information in an artistic and vibrant manner. With the additional NeuroTech R&D Kit, users can perform their own brainwave research, or develop their own software and hardware applications to interact with, and take advantage of all the MindSet's capabilities.
* Windows Vista Preferred
* 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo or Equivalent Processor
* 1GB Memory
* DirectX 10
* 256MB 3D Graphics Card for Games/Demonstrations