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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Toys that read your mind!

According to the Associated Press, a company called NeuroSky, Inc. is developing toys that can read your mind. For example, one product is a Darth Vader mask and light saber. The light saber stays on as long as the user maintains concentration. If the user loses concentration, the light saber goes out. It all sounds like a terrible Viagra commercial.

Other variations on this technology would monitor concentration and calmless whilst making putts (or "a put" as the golf-impaired AP writer Rachel Conrad putt... ahem... put it) in Tiger Woods PGA Golf *, or whilst shooting bad guys in Grand Theft Auto, in between shooting everyone else (or, presumably, searching online for the excreable "adult" minigame that the producers thought it would be funny to waste company time on by putting it in the betas). Anyway, the theory goes that if you're not calm you miss the putt or miss the shots (or, presumably, get turned down by the virtual trollops).

Do they realise that this is the way things work already? I mean, if I'm nervous or have sweaty hands, or am distracted, my child will absolutely clobber me in one of those Driver minigames, where you try to outrun the maniacal police cars that smash into your 60's era Dodge Charger. I can barely muster up the concentration to be competitive in the Madagascar carpet golf or shuffleboard games, whilst my offspring demonstrates the cool single-mindedness of a Russian WWII-era sniper.

The other problem is that bio-feedback is utter nonsense as a science. Measuring the brainwaves of people is probably useful for something, but then applying it to any actual assessment of the individual's performance in question is of dubious value, or isn't that why lie-detector tests aren't generally admissable in courts?

The whole article itself seems a bit overhyped to me. The headline implies that researchers have developed toys that will respond to your mental commands. I'd like that in many applications, as it would end the wear and tear on my hands from all this typing. At least my thumbs would stop twitching.

The other possiblity implied is that the games would engage in some kind of bio-electric telepathy with you. Now that would be something, especially when I'm doing poorly in a game. I'd like to see exactly how Winning Eleven would respond after the mental signals I'd send it** as a result of losing to Chelsea in a match.

* So named because Tiger now owns the PGA Tour, more or less.
** Unprintable in a PG blog such as this.


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