Forget your Oculus Touch or Vive Controller – there’s a new way to play in virtual reality. Instead of using your hands to interact with VR worlds, how about using your brain? Indeed, that’s exactly what Neurable is delivering. The new startup unveiled a brain-computer interface at this year’s SIGGRAPH. Additionally, Neurable debuted a brain-controlled VR game influenced by Netflix drama Stranger Things.
So, how does Neurable work? The device uses a custom HTC Vive headband which houses embedded brain monitors. Specifically, it utilises EEG (Electroencephalography). Neurable shows images to the user to calibrate the monitors. That is, for every image, the headband takes a reading. Finally, the readings – combined with eye-tracking – allow direct human control.
“Neurable develops brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for next-generation computing platforms. Our revolutionary technology allows people to interact with AR/VR environments using only their brain activity.
The benefits of a BCI in mixed reality are many and unique. BCIs analyze patterns of brain activity to determine user intent. This tech is already capable of typing on virtual keyboards and controlling prosthetic limbs, entirely from brain activity. Such intent-driven interactions hold tremendous promise for mixed reality environments, where current problems with user interaction constitute a significant barrier to more widespread adoption.
The best solution is a brain-computer interface that allows users to scroll menus, select items, launch applications, manipulate objects, and even input text using only their brain activity. Imagine the productivity revolution that a high-performance, non-invasive, intuitive BCI would unleash in mixed reality.”
Neurable’s SIGGRAPH debut came in partnership with developer eStudiofuture. Together, the pair developed Awakening, a Stranger Things-inspired VR game.
“Awakening is a futuristic story reminiscent of Stranger Things: you are a child held prisoner in a government science laboratory. You discover that experiments have endowed you with telekinetic powers. You must use those powers to escape your cell, defeat the robotic prison guards, and free yourself from the lab.”
According to UploadVR’s Ian Hamilton, who played Awakening at SIGGRAPH, it does indeed. Not only that, but it sounds pretty flawless. Hamilton writes:
“I was told to just think of the object I wanted. I tried not to stare directly at the object I wanted but five out of five times the correct object was picked as I thought about it.”
Neurable is only a proof-of-concept right now, so we’re far from the technology hitting the market. Even so, a VR brain interface is an exciting idea.
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