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How to Control VR With the Power of Your Mind

Ramses Alcaide first developed the technology to use brain power to control videogames when he was a graduate student at the University of Michigan, now he is using that technology with start-up company Neurable.

MIT Technology Review have revealed that technology start-up company Neurable have developed their brain-sensing technology to the point where it is possible to determine what a player’s actions are in virtual reality (VR). It works by affixing dry electrodes that can record brain activity using EEG, something most people would be more familiar with in a hospital setting. The EEG signals are then interpreted by software in order to determine the correct action that should occur within the game.

The wireless electrodes are paired with a HTC Vive headset in its current version, which the company says is still in its early stages of development. Neurable are hoping to offer software tool kits for developers later on this year, and is optimistic that integrated headsets and electrodes will be developed not long after.

“You don’t really have to do anything,” say Alcaide, “It’s a subconscious response, which is really cool.”

It does take a few minutes of training to learn how to use the technology to achieve the desired response, though once that training is complete, it is applicable to every application. Once ‘trained’, it is possible to use pure brain power to do things like fire off spells in Skyrim.

The race to replace the familiar hand-held controllers with mental power goes all the way back to the Atari Mindlink – though that device actually read muscle movements, not brainwaves. There have also been expensive executive toys like the Force Trainer and similar products that use EEG produced by Neurosky. The disadvantage previously was the response lag, and the accuracy of the response.

Alcaide says that the technology has greatly improved and that one build of his technology got 85% accuracy when processed in real-time, and 99% accurate with 1 second delay.

VRFocus will keep you informed on Neurable and other VR tech startups.