The brain-wave scanner, devised last fall and designed to be worn on an arm or leg (competitors rely on helmets or ear attachments), works by tracking brain-wave activity as you play 3D games or perform virtual-reality simulations. “When synapses fire, they release electrical pulses that move through the body,” states the article. The BodyWave, about the size of an iPhone, uses three dry carbon sensors that contact the skin and search for brainwave activity. The brain produces beta-level waves at frequencies of 12 to 30 hertz when the user is concentrating, according to neurologists.
The system comes complete with software called Play Attention, which includes a few 3D games and virtual reality simulations, and is currently being used to coach children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. During use, if a player becomes bored or distracted, the video game stops functioning correctly until the player can regain his or her focus. A red bar at the top of the screen relays concentration levels, signaling dips in focus, and an automated voice offers positive reinforcements when a player is in the zone.
Future applications? Popular Science stated that a BodyWave-equipped golf club could help players stay in the game, or a steering wheel could signal sleepy drivers when it’s time to pull over. Alternatively, the system could track drivers with road rage problems, alerting them to when their anger levels are reaching the danger zone.
The BodyWave certainly isn’t the first device that uses biofeedback and video games to train the brain – in fact NASA pioneered the technique to measure brain activity in pilots during flight simulation exercises. More research on the software’s effectiveness in regards to attention deficit problems needs to be complete, but early, small studies yield positive results, and several companies are offering competing products designed to sharpen your powers of concentration.
Allied Products has a system, also called Play Attention, that comes equipped with training software and a helmet device. CyberLearning Technology produces the S.M.A.R.T. (Self Mastery and Regulation Training) BrainGames system, an interactive, at-home training tool that is compatible with off-the-shelf Sony PlayStation video games, including such titles as Gran Turismo, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and Spyro the Dragon. As the player’s brainwaves come closer to an optimal state of focus, the video game’s controller becomes easier to control. If a player becomes fidgety or distracted, the brainwaves stray from the desired stress-free pattern, and controlling the game becomes more difficult.
Learn more here: http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2010-12/whats-next-get-your-head-game
Available in the UK via Games for Life for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch a promotional video on Unique Logic & Technology’s Play Attention software, which accompanies the BodyWave: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thv6iCRnj9Q