A group of University of Alberta students has created a video game where players use their brainwaves as the controller, opening it up to players who aren’t able to use traditional gaming systems.
The game, AlphaBlaster, allows players to control the program based on whether their brain is in either an active or resting state.
Abdel Tayem, the president of the student group NeurAlbertaTech, says the game is a proof of concept.
“Our goal with this project is to show that we can control and interface with a computer without using typical inputs like a keyboard and a mouse.”
The game was a project for a NeuroTechX competition where students experimented with neurotechnology to find different ways it can be used. Tayem says the next version of the game will be more complex.
“We could build a game that involves more moving parts, more dynamics and more character involvement for the user. This gets people to get more trained or more familiar with controlling their brain states and using that to interact with the computer.”
AlphaBlaster is also accessible to those who aren’t physically able to play with typical game controllers.
“For those with limited mobility or any kind of accessibility challenge this does provide an entirely new way to interface with computers,” said Nicole Wlasitz with NeurAlbertaTech.
Wlasitz also says while the technology has a long way to go, it has potential uses beyond video games.
The 2D shooter game gives the player a limited number of bullets, as an unlimited number of demons crawl across the screen towards the character. Shooting is done by using a brain-sensing headset, called an EEG headband. It sits on the player’s forehead and the back of the ears, picking up the electrical activity from the brain.
The headbands are used commercially for meditation and stress management, and were provided by NeuroTechX.
“It’s really exciting for people who do have limited mobility or aren’t able to interact with the computer in the normal keyboard and mouse kind of input way … so the doors that this opens for gaming for them is really huge.”
The team created the video game in just two months as an entry into the international neurotechnology contest.
They placed fifth out of ten teams. Other teams were from McGill University, University of Toronto, École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
The team has made the code for AlphaBlaster available online here.