While brainwave-controlled wearables have been on the market for a number of years, the practical applications have focused primarily on health, fitness and accessibility. Neuromatix, a Russian game developer, has created a new system that hopes to introduce more feeling into an otherwise separated gameplay experience. Using a neuro-interface headpiece, this system would analyze the user’s emotions (with data such as brain waves and skin temperature) then reflect that directly onto their in-game character. Reminding players of how their actions affect others, Neuromatix director, Vladimir Statut hopes the result to be a sort of emotional accountability.
“Currently, there are no emotions in video-games,” Statut told Sputnik in an interview this week. “A person can commit a murder [in a video-game] and he wouldn’t receive an adequate emotional impact. Without emotions in virtual environments, people can then have the lack of emotions in real life.”
These emotionally-fueled, thought-controlled games will be playable sometime in 2017 on Russian social media platform, Vkontake.
With the advancement of hyper-realistic video game graphics, whether a link exists between game violence and real-life outbursts remains an ongoing debate. The Neuromatix system, in order to achieve the desired affect of empathy, would rely on the individual’s current emotional state and how they naturally react to say, hurting someone’s feelings. Empathy, the human ability to identify and feel another person’s emotions, would be required to impact the player’s experience under these conditions. Barring certain mental and personality disorders, Neuromatix is relying on what they perceive to be “normal” reactions to a video game event. However, anyone having played online multiplayer has encountered those who thrive on emotional havoc—known as trolls—and it could be said that such an interface would make the horrified look on your character’s face even more satisfying.
If the goal of the Neuromatix system is to evoke an emotional response artificially—for example, to make a player feel guilty after committing an in-game murder—or more realistically, create a positive response to an advertisement—the technology will have to advance a bit further. Experts say it could be possible in the future, however. We spoke with Tan Le, co-founder and CEO of Emotiv—an innovator in the field of brain wave wearable technology—to see how soon we can expect this kind of ’emotional implant.’
“It is certainly possible to detect a player’s emotions and then reflect those emotions into their in game character,” Tan Le told [a]listdaily. “However, to simulate emotions a person will require a form of deep brain stimulation and it’s not well understood how that might be achieved at this time. But it is likely to be possible.”
According to the NeuroNet expert group, the global market of neurotechnologies will reach $1 trillion by 2035; making the trillions of neurons in our brains prime marketing real estate. Neuromatix specifically analyzes a user’s emotions, and learns accordingly. For example, the headset could gather data on whether a user enjoyed a video or found educational materials too complicated. The Russian military, meanwhile, has expressed interest in the application of brain-controlled drones and other advancements on the battlefield. In the medical field, a neurological link between patient and artificial limb or organs could change lives.
In the meantime, neuro-interface technology is already being used across the world to study and improve athletic performance, achieve mental relaxation and provide entertainment, such as flying a toy drone or moving cat ears on a headset. While the practical applications seem endless now, the list of thought-powered possibilities will continue to grow in humanity’s endless pursuit of scientific—and marketing—knowledge.