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Mind Games: Headset That Translates Thoughts Into On Screen Action Ava

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A penny for your thoughts? Not any more. Now it will cost you about US$300.


The video game industry has introduced non-stop improvements to its systems over the years, ranging from online interactivity to built-in DVDs. Up until now, the biggest innovation was likely the controller for the Nintendo Wii, which allows players to simply wave the remote and have the motion reflected on screen.


But there's a new game in town, and this one will either give you the creeps or stimulate your imagination. Just be careful where that takes you. It's a headset that lets you control what happens on a video game system or PC monitor using only your thoughts.


The product, called the Emotiv EPOC, uses sensors in the headgear to read the electrical signals in your brain and allows you to manipulate the action by simply thinking about it. The device is also capable of gauging your emotions and can detect anger, excitement, tension, and can even interpret facial expressions, mimicking them on any on-screen avatar.


It comes with its own specially developed game, but the company insists it can be used with existing systems or your PC.


In the old days, the firm's stated purpose might have sounded like something from a sci fi novel. Not anymore. One of its founders is a neuro-scientist. "Our mission is to create the ultimate interface for the next-generation of human-machine interaction, by evolving the interaction between humans and electronic devices beyond the limitations of conscious interface," its website reads.


No less a player than IBM has taken a keen interest in its potential. Big Blue is working with Emotiv to try and explore the applications of the headset. Its V.P. of Digital Convergence has boldly predicted the invention could change not only gaming but the very basics of how computers and humans interact.


The initial model will be available in late 2008 - right in time for the Christmas holiday. And you don't need a brain sensitive headset to know why they're waiting until then.


But this might create bad thoughts for those who want one. Initial shipments will only be sent to U.S. customers, with the company promising to make it available elsewhere "at a later date."



Photo courtesy: Emotiv

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